My matter is for the Attorney-General.
It is about the Fast Track Remand Court (or FTRC, for short) that operates as part of the Children’s Court of Victoria.
Since the FRTC’s establishment in 2017, its central aims have been to deal in a timely way with the criminal charges of children held on remand – and, where necessary, to help organise their engagement in education and other rehabilitation programs.
However, it has generally assumed a very low profile publicly ever since then.
I stress that is not a criticism in itself, because it’s certainly not always a bad thing for something in the justice system to be operating without there being much contention or fanfare attached to it. Moreover, that can sometimes be reflective of the fact that it is actually working well.
I have to say, though, that it’s not very clear whether that’s the case in relation to the FTRC or not.
There is just very little information on the public record about its work – let alone the kinds of detailed independent evaluations or assessments that I think should probably have been completed by now about exactly how well it is (or isn’t) serving its objectives.
There has been no mention of it, for instance, in any of the Department of Justice’s annual reports from 2017-18 onwards.
Similarly, a search of Hansard for the exact phrase ‘Fast Track Remand Court’ yields just one result for all the years since 2017 – and even that was merely a very brief reference to its establishment.
It has likewise only very rarely been mentioned in the media, and a general google search doesn’t elicit much detailed information about its activities at all, either.
Given the wording on page 36 of its most recent Annual Report, it appears that the Children’s Court itself (like me) also reached the view a while ago that a formal evaluation of the FTRC should be undertaken.
However, it remains very difficult to ascertain whether this work did actually proceed as planned in 2019-20.
Accordingly, I seek the Attorney’s advice about the role the FTRC is playing and how successful (or otherwise) it is proving, including an indication of the reasons and KPIs on which the Government has been basing its decisions to continue to allocate to the FRTC it’s significant annual funding through the Budget.
As a very important part of that advice, I ask if she could also clarify if any formal evaluations of its work have been completed – and, if so, what these concluded and recommended.