The Treatment of Juvenile Offenders: - A study of the treatment of juvenile offenders as part of an overall review of the Child Welfare Act was an investigation conducted into Western Australia's methods of dealing with young people who transgressed the law or social boundaries. It recommended that sanctions for offending behaviour should be dealt with separately from a child's need for care and protection.
The Edwards Report, as The Treatment of Juvenile Offenders: - A study of the treatment of juvenile offenders as part of an overall review of the Child Welfare Act was known, was conducted by Professor Eric Edwards. Edwards found that Western Australia had the highest per capita rates of youth incarceration in the nation. According to the Director of Community Welfare in his annual report in 1984 (p.52), Edwards recommended two key principles that the Department needed to address: 'Offenders and non-offenders should be clearly and completely separated and dealt with separately' and the 'Children's Court (and not the Department) should determine whether children found guilty of offences should be detained in custody'.
Edwards' study led to Hillston being closed and had flow-on effects to the other institutions. The Longmore Training Centre was established in September 1983 as a secure institution for boys under 16 years, with all other children on remand and assessment being accommodated in the Longmore Remand and Assessment Centre. A system of community support hostels was developed to ensure children in need of protection were accommodated separately from children who were brought before the courts. However, by 1986 the community support hostels were also admitting children with offending behaviours and it is not clear whether it had ever been possible to separate the two issues, which so often co-exist in children and young people.
Sources used to compile this entry: Edwards, Eric James, The treatment of juvenile offenders : a study of the treatment of juvenile offenders in Western Australia as part of an overall review of the Child Welfare Act, Department for Community Welfare, Perth, 1982; Wells, Annette, 'Juvenile Justice in Western Australia', in Paper presented at the Children and Crime: Victims and Offenders Conference, Australian Institute of Criminology, 17-18 June 1999, https://web.archive.org/web/20170517104415/http://www.aic.gov.au:80/media_library/conferences/children/wells.pdf. p.2.; Western Australia. Department for Community Welfare, Annual Report: Department for Community Welfare, Dept. For Community Welfare, [Perth], 1973-1984, http://catalogue.slwa.wa.gov.au/record=b1410539~S7. Annual Report 1983-84, p.52; Annual Report 1986, p.33..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 27 August 2014, Last modified: 5 September 2014