On 2 July 2020, I attended National Council of Women of Victoria monthly meeting. Tiffany Overall, Youth law Convenor of Smart Justice for Young People (SJFYP) was the guest speaker. She described SJFYP as “a coalition of organisations working to give young people a chance to succeed in life and stop reoffending”. https://www.fclc.org.au/smart_justice_for_young_people.
As Tiffany outlined the work of SJFYP, I was struck by the unity of purpose between SJFYP and Ahuzat Yeladim, WIZO’s school for troubled youth in Haifa. Both organisations support young people affected by trauma and abuse. Ahuzat Yeladim does this by nurturing youth sent by Israeli juvenile justice bodies to complete their education and SJFYP, by advising government on alternatives to custodial sentences.
The United Nations defines youth as aged 15-24. Tiffany stated that over 60% of Australian youth in the justice system, i.e. juvenile courts, adult prison or youth training centres come from disadvantaged communities specifically Aboriginal, Maori, East African and are in danger of becoming a permanent underclass in Australian society. She said that the earlier a child encounters the justice system the longer he or she will take part in crime.
The United Nations has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 years. Globally, the age of criminal responsibility varies. In Australia, Germany and Ireland a child of 10 can be arrested and imprisoned. In Israel, Canada, United Kingdom the age of criminal responsivity is 12, 14 in Italy, 15 in Finland and 18 in France.
Currently the Australian Council of Attorneys-General is reviewing the age of criminal responsibility.
SJFYP has launched the Raise the Age campaign, calling on all states to adopt the 14-year-old UN standard. Tiffany mentioned that youth offenders come out of custody without education or skills and that government must work with community organisations to reduce youth offending.
For further information
United Nations Association of Australia, Victoria, Status of Women Committee.
During the 14 July meeting, Status of Women Committee National convenor, Sheila Byard congratulated WIZO Australia on our 100th anniversary and wished us many years of continued success.
Judith Van Unen National President, Business and Professional Women Australia 2000 – 2004. reported that on 10 July 2020 Israel passed “The Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services Act” and implemented the Nordic Model.
The Nordic Model aims to reduce demand for prostitution services by criminalising the actions of buyers and pimps instead of the prostituted persons. The law imposes fines for consuming prostitution and recognises the harmful nature of prostitution. The Act is part of a suite of measures including
public education, trauma counselling and practical support to help trafficked women rebuild their lives.
For further information
WIZO’s input at the 2014 Nordic Forum on Gender Equality in Malmo, Sweden http://www.wizo.org.il/Media/Doc/08.07.2014/WIZO%20chaverot%20make%20an%20impact%20at %20the%20Nordic%20Forum%20on%20Gender%20Equality%20in%20Malmo.pdf
So dear members, it is heartening that even during this Covid-19 affected times the efforts to achieve social justice in Australia and Israel continue.
Community Liaison Officer