Saturday, July 13, 2024

New era for Victorian youth justice

The new Cherry Creek Youth Justice Precinct will open its doors and begin housing young people within weeks, Victoria’s Minister for Youth Justice has announced.

Minister, Enver Erdogan said the Precinct will take on the first cohort of males aged between 15 and 18 by August, providing improved facilities for staff and young people and better access to services that help break the cycle of reoffending.

“The opening of the Cherry Creek Youth Justice Precinct marks a new era of modern, fit-for-purpose support for young people, better safety for staff and ultimately a safer community for all Victorians,” the Minister said.

“We are immensely grateful to the staff at Malmsbury for the vital work they do every day – our support package will help give certainty to their future and provide new opportunities to work with people in our justice system.”

Purpose-built design features include an intensive intervention community, a specialised primary health centre, and two mental health units. It will accommodate young people in smaller units of four, so staff can provide more targeted and individual support in a safer environment – including modern security systems.

The Precinct is also set to provide more education and training opportunities, including VCE and VET courses. Educational and vocational services will be delivered through a new partnership between Parkville College, the Gordon TAFE and Virtual Schools Victoria.

In line with working in a specialised facility, all staff at Cherry Creek will receive additional training and responsibilities that support the delivery of psychosocial programs and case management, said Minister Erdogan.

Youth Justice Commissioner, Andrea Davidson said the opening of the Cherry Creek precinct represented a new era for Victoria’s youth justice system, making way for the closure of the ageing Malmsbury precinct, which has been operational since 1965, by the end of 2023.

“I know this will be a difficult time for our staff at Malmsbury – I thank them for their dedication and commitment to young people in our care,” said Commissioner Davidson.

“We will continue talking to our staff across Youth Justice to provide regular updates about the closure and ensure they are supported.”

Young people at Malmsbury will be progressively transferred to the Cherry Creek and Parkville precincts across the next six months.

Staff will also be provided with a range of supports including opportunities to transition into other roles, as well as career advice, Targeted Separation Packages and incentive payments paid over the next six months, the Commissioner said.

“The existing Parkville Youth Justice Precinct will continue operating, ensuring all staff and young people in custody have access to fit-for-purpose facilities. Youth Justice staff at Parkville will also be backed with better pay and training along with additional workforce support,” she said.

The opening of Cherry Creek and increased support for Parkville staff follows recommendations of the Armytage-Ogloff review into Victoria’s youth justice system.

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