Specialist youth court opens in Launceston

A SPECIALIST youth court opened in Launceston yesterday thanks to two years of funding promised for the service.

Save the Children program Supporting Young People on Bail has been in effect for 2 1/2 years in Hobart.

The initiative last year received the Australian Institute of Criminology's national crime and violence prevention award.

Save the Children estimates between 30 and 50 young people will be helped by the Launceston program, which includes a designated specialist magistrate, designated prosecutors and defence counsel, a regular courtroom work group consisting of specialists from relevant departments and a special list for young offenders with complex needs.

Save the Children Tasmania program manager Lisa Cuatt said the program worked to re-engage young offenders with educational, vocational and recreational activities while they awaited sentencing.

She said these activities could include helping a young person obtain their driver's licence to help them get work or assisting them in returning to school.

Attorney-General Brian Wightman yesterday welcomed the start of the program, which was made possible by a $358,424 state government grant.

"I am confident that the specialised youth justice courts, both in Hobart and Launceston, will continue to have potential benefits of change to young offenders' lifestyles in terms of both public safety and well- being," Mr Wightman said.

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