News Item

October 2012

Youth Advocates in NZ's Justice System

Recently released research suggests Youth Justice Lawyers are doing a good job of protecting young people’s rights in our New Zealand justice system.

Researcher Alison Cleland, Senior Lecturer in law at University of Auckland, launched her research report “Youth advocates in Aotearoa/New Zealand’s youth justice system Exploring the roles, functions and responsibilities of lawyers for young people” on 28th August.

Alison’s investigation found that the role of Youth Advocates is a complex one that requires specialist training for working with young offenders. The work frequently goes beyond providing basic advocacy to being a mentor and supporter.

It is this specialised expertise that Alison says is important for ensuring young people know what they are charged with, can give instructions and understand the consequences of being involved in the process.

There are concerns that the Government’s Legal Assistance (Sustainability) Bill would remove the specialist criteria for appointments to this role, and Alison believes this would be a real threat to the system. The risk being that young offenders may not fully understand the charges and processes they are facing.

Alison’s research report was launched on 28 August 2012 and is now available on this link.

The Law Foundation provided $12,746 to cover research costs for this project.