A youth diversion program operates in all Children’s Court locations across Victoria.
The Children’s Court Youth Diversion Service (CCYD) is a pre-plea option that provides an opportunity for young people appearing before the criminal division of the Children’s Court to complete a diversion plan, involving activities intended to reduce the likelihood of further offending and have the charge/s discharged, on successful completion of the diversion plan.
The CCYD commenced as a statewide service on 1 January 2017.
The CCYD provides an opportunity for eligible young people appearing before the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court to:
- accept responsibility for their behaviour
- complete a diversion plan with activities intended to:
- build upon or strengthen the individual’s protective factor
- promote understanding of the harm caused by the offence/s
- have the charge/s discharged, upon successful completion of the diversion plan
- avoid the negative stigma associated with a criminal record.
The CCYD service complements the existing suite of options available to divert children and young people from further progression into the criminal justice system.
Other options occur pre-Court (e.g. police caution, referral to the Youth Support Service), pre-plea (e.g. bail supervision with Youth Justice, Ropes) and post-plea (e.g. deferral of sentence and Youth Justice Group Conferencing).
CCYD coordinators attend all scheduled sittings of the Children’s Court to conduct assessments, provide advice to the Court on a young person’s suitability for diversion and develop plans to promote positive behavioural change. Common diversion plan activities include:
- a letter of apology to the victim
- a reflective practice discussion with the coordinator, to improve a young person’s understanding of their offending behaviour
- an education-related intervention (such as support to improve attendance or reengagement with education, training or employment)
- a commitment to participate in an activity to address a health or well-being concern (such as counselling or an assessment for a cognitive impairment
- or learning difficultly)
- engagement in a structured activity that promotes pro-social engagement (such as sport, cadets, music or art).
CCYD targets young people with limited or no criminal history who would otherwise be sentenced to an outcome not requiring supervision from youth justice.
The young person’s history and circumstances of their offending are considered in determining whether diversion is appropriate. There are no automatic exclusions regarding the nature or type of offence eligible for diversion, apart from offences that carry a mandatory penalty.
Eligibility is informed by consultation with the young person, their family or carer, legal representative and Victoria Police prosecutors.
The Children Youth and Families Act 2005 require both the prosecution and the accused to consent to diversion.