Joint Statement on the Safety of Children and Young People in Tasmania (2024 Tasmanian State Election)

A coalition of community service organisations and justice advocates have united to seek commitments from parties and candidates that respond to the urgent and ongoing safety concerns identified by the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings (Commission of Inquiry).

The coalition is calling for:

  1. Immediate changes to the Youth Justice Act

We call for the immediate implementation of Commission of Inquiry recommendations and the following legislative reform:

  • Raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 and the age of detention to at least 16, without exceptions for particular offences.
  • Reducing the number of children on remand. 
  • The expansion of diversionary options, including pre-charge and pre-court diversion.
  • Embedding therapeutic principles relating to child development, including mandated sentencing principles focused on rehabilitation and ensuring prison is a sentence of last resort.
  1. A focus on prevention

The Commission of Inquiry recommendations focused on the importance of early intervention and prevention. We seek support for the following measures:

  • Developing and implementing a mandatory child sexual abuse prevention curriculum to be introduced in schools across the state. 
  • Increased investment in community-based programs targeting prevention and early intervention for all Tasmanian families.
  • Ensuring the Tasmanian National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) is adequately resourced to provide independent oversight of institutions, as well as engaging in preventative education and training.
  1. Better support for Aboriginal children and families

We seek commitments to the following actions to address the rising rates of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care:

  • Implementation of all elements of the Aboriginal Child Placement principle. 
  • Increased funding in the 2024/25 Tasmanian Budget for community organisations supporting Aboriginal children and families.
  1. Long-term, comprehensive funding for services working to support families and children

Tasmanian community organisations must be adequately supported to work with children and families in crisis. We are calling for:

  • Comprehensive, long-term funding for all community organisations working to support the safety and wellbeing of children and families.
  • Guaranteed funding and contract length/conditions that are appropriate to address the complex and intersecting needs of children and families who are in crisis or at risk.
  • Community-led, local solutions co-designed and delivered by organisations with connections to and relationships with priority groups. 

Tasmanian signatories:

  • 54 reasons
  • Anglicare Tasmania
  • Baptcare (Tasmania)
  • Colony 47
  • Justice Reform Initiative
  • JusTas
  • Mission Australia (Tasmania)
  • Prisoners Legal Service Tasmania
  • TasCOSS
  • TasOPCAT Network