The first reading of new legislation to ensure ram raiders (including those aged 12 years old and up) are to be held accountable for their crimes passed its first reading on August 29, 2023.
On 11 September 2023, submissions were sought for the Ram Raid Offending and Related Measures Amendment Bill.
FASD-CAN sent a submission in, the conclusion of which is below.
Click here to read the full submission.
Conclusion to FASD-CAN's submission to the Ram Raid Offending and Related Measures Amendment Bill.
If the purpose of the Amendment Bill is to “reduce youth-dominated offending by increasing accountability for those who engage in the criminal behaviour covered by the bill”, we do not see how this will be achieved. Applying ever-greater consequences to the anti-social actions of children and youth will not lead to this outcome.
In particular, FASD-CAN is concerned that the Amendment Bill will perpetuate the negative life-outcomes for people with FASD. If an offender has FASD and this is not identified, all the consequences in the world will not change a thing for the victim(s) or lead to better life outcomes for the individual concerned.
Individuals supported by rigid, prejudiced, and unlinked systems have created the problems society is now experiencing, and harsher, earlier punishment will not change that. We need systems transformation, not taking away any hope some of our children and youth may have of a good life. Children and youth engaged in criminal offending need wrap-around support and restorative justice, not criminalisation. These approaches place the child at the centre and holds them accountable at a level they can understand, and in the case of people with FASD, with which they can mentally cope.
All children and youth coming before the Youth Court for an offence should be assessed for a possible neurodisability as a matter of course. This will lead to informed strategies and interventions, and better societal outcomes and life outcomes for the individual concerned.
In conclusion, we believe the proposals in this Bill are materially flawed and will not elicit the social outcomes being sought. However, it will achieve greater criminalisation of minors whose brains have been damaged by alcohol, who are very suggestible and often manipulated by others, and who are functionally much younger than their chronological age.