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Youth centre welcomes new protection for 17 year olds

A Melbourne Catholic agency has welcomed Victorian State Legislation that will give Children's Court protection to 17 year olds who have been sent to adult prisons and often looked upon seasoned criminals as role models.

Fr Peter Norden (pictured) of the Brosnan Centre said the new legislation, which was due to be passed in the Victorian Parliament yesterday, will protect young people aged 17 who previously had their cases heard in Adult Courts and were unable to be sent to adult prisons.

The Brosnan Centre, associated with Jesuit Social Services and named after Victoria's best known prison chaplain, has been working for 27 years to help young offenders after their release from prison and youth training centres. Founder Fr Peter Norden, a former Pentridge Prison Chaplain himself, said yesterday that he has waited more than 20 years for this change in legislation.

"When you put a vulnerable 17 year old in an adult prison it is likely that he will make heroes out of seasoned criminals," he said. "This is a very positive move by the Victorian Government, ensuring that 17 year olds who face detention will receive care and protection and a real chance at rehabilitation."

Peter Coghlan who is the Manager of the Brosnan Centre's 30 full-time staff says the Centre staff are pleased that 17 year olds will no longer face the prospect of going to adult prisons.

"For too many young people going to Adult prisons the experience has been traumatic and this often affects young people for yours," he said. "The new legislation brings Victoria into conformity with the rest of Australa and into conformity with Article 37c of the United Nations Covenant on the Rights of the Child, which says that "every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults," explained Fr Norden.

Youth centre welcomes protection of children by the criminal courts (Brosnan Centre/Jesuit Social Services 13/10/04)

Jesuit Social Services
Victorian Hansard (13/10/04) - includes debate of Children and Young Persons (Age Jurisdiction) Bill
Fr Peter Norden: Are some states or territories more delinquent than others? Inter-jurisdictional comparisons (Conference Paper, presented at Juvenile Justice : From the Lessons of the Past to a Road Map for the Future, 1-2/12/03)
Brosnan Centre farewells Fr Brosnan
Jesuit alarmed by Vic Govt broken promise on children in adult prisons (CathNews 10/12/03)
Children in Adult Prisons in Victoria (Jesuit Social Services 10/12/03)
Jesuit challenging States on "prison" youth strategy (CathNews 1/12/03)

14 Oct 2004