Castlemaine fellow weighs in on youth justice

Claire Seppings of Castlemaine has shared knowledge on the role of peer mentors in rehabilitation with the legislative council at a parliamentary inquiry into youth justice centres in Victoria.

The public hearing, by the Legal and Social Issues Committee, is examining issues at the Malmsbury and Parkville Youth Justice Centres.

"My main message was advising them to look at the centres as a community and to have all of the members of that community be part of the solution," Ms Seppings said.

"I really stressed that they need to hear from current service users or former service users. It's about helping individual clients see what their future potential could be."

When talking on tackling issues with riots, she said it's about breaking down the barriers of 'us versus them' and suggested introducing councils, like those used internationally, where staff and clients work together to resolve issues in the prison community.

Ms Seppings had a one hour session at the hearing which included an opening statement and time for questions and discussion. She said the committee was thankful for some positive insights into how things could be done.

Ms Seppings undertook a Churchill Fellowship looking into the role of reformed offenders and peer mentors in the justice systems in the UK, Sweden, Ireland and the USA in 2015. When she heard of the public inquiry in Victoria, she made a submission and was invited to speak.

She said she was shocked to get the call to speak at the hearing along with the Victorian Ombudsman, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Sentencing Advisory Council deputy chair, Youth Parole Board chair and Professor Terry Laidler.

The committee will deliver a report to parliament by August 1.

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