A leading program to support young people attending the NSW Children’s Court celebrated its 25th anniversary at NSW Parliament House.
Attorney General Mark Speakman praised the Children’s Court Assistance Scheme (CCAS) for helping young people and their families during and after their day in court with information about court processes, advocacy and referrals to welfare services.
“It’s a privilege to be marking the achievements of a scheme that puts the wellbeing of children first, giving them a voice and protecting their rights,” Mr Speakman said.
“Since 1995, trained youth workers have been connecting young people and their families to employment services, drug and alcohol programs, counselling and accommodation. Without the hard work of the CCAS, many young people might not get the help they need for a better future.”
Legal Aid NSW administers funding for four Community Legal Centres (CLCs) to operate the scheme in seven Children’s Court locations across the state:
- Western Sydney CLC – Surry Hills and Parramatta Children’s Courts
- Macarthur Legal Centre – Campbelltown Children’s Court
- Central Coast CLC – Wyong, Woy Woy and Broadmeadow Children’s Courts
- Illawarra Legal Centre – Port Kembla Children’s Court
In 2019-20 alone, the CCAS assisted more than 6,700 young people, 29 per cent of whom identified as Aboriginal. It also provided services to more than 4,700 family members, carers and friends.
CCAS Coordinator Stan Small said navigating a complex court system can be a daunting and stressful experience for anyone, let alone a young person who typically comes from a disadvantaged background.
“That’s why it is crucial that we act as advocates for young people before, during and after their day in court, building trust and empowering our clients in tailored and holistic ways,” Mr Small said.
“The reason that we exist is to support the unsupported, especially young people attending court for the first time.”
The NSW Government has committed record investments of more than $40 million into the CLC sector from 2019 to 2022.