There is well-documented concern over mandatory sentencing regimes, and especially over mandatory sentencing of youth. As WA leads Australia in the proportion of incarceration of Aboriginal youth, this new law is of particular concern. Amnesty International has indicated that such laws are discriminatory in that they will effectively target the most vulnerable — Aboriginal children from remote areas with limited access to services.
While a safe work environment for protective officers is obviously important, the imposition of mandatory sentences is not the answer to safety at work.
KATE GALLOWAY teaches law at James Cook University.