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Tasmania - Legislation

Youth Justice Act 1997 (1997 - )


The Youth Justice Act 1997 (Act No.81/1997) commenced in 1999. Its long title was 'An Act to provide for the treatment and punishment of young persons who have committed offences and for related purposes'. Together with the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997, which commenced in mid-2000, this legislation brought about significant changes in the delivery of care and protection and youth justice services in Tasmania.


The Act was based on the South Australian system of restorative justice which in turn was based on practices in New Zealand.

It applies to young people aged between 10 and 18.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services 2013 website, the Youth Justice Act is based on the principles of 'accountability and restorative justice'. It is designed to encourage young people to take responsibility for their behaviour and to make amends for the damage they have done. This is carried out through the participation of victims, the involvement of parents, and through rehabilitation programs. The aim is to help young people who have broken the law to become good 'citizens'.

In order to promote rehabilitation, the Act stipulates that a young person should only be placed in detention as a 'last resort' and for as short a time as possible. It introduced measures to keep young people out of detention. These included police cautioning, community conferencing, and community based supervision orders.



Sources used to compile this entry: Ombudsman Tasmania, Listen to the children: Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children, Office of the Ombudsman, Tasmania, Hobart, November 2004. Also available at p.60.; Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Tasmanian Legislation', 20 January 2014, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill