DUBBO Magistrate Andrew Eckhold has expressed grave concerns about troubled teenagers left without adequate care, guidance and protection.
He said a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Attorney General prevented Juvenile Justice NSW from being involved with young offenders in the community when they had not entered pleas of guilty (to charges) or were not on supervised court orders.
"Many of these vulnerable young people are not receiving the supervision they need from their parents,'' Magistrate Eckhold told Dubbo Children's Court.
"It is left to charities like Mission Australia to fill the gap.''
Magistrate Eckhold made the comments while dealing with a 13-year-old girl from Warren.
The girl had been suspended from school and was in custody for breaching court orders.
During a previous court appearance she had been granted bail on charges of aggravated break and enter in company, entering enclosed lands without lawful excuse, receiving stolen property and using offensive language.
The charges had been set down for hearing at Wellington Local Court on December 3.
The girl sat impassively in the dock flanked by Juvenile Justice officers during her appearance before Magistrate Eckhold.
She was dressed in shorts and a long-sleeved top. Her hair was pulled into pigtails.
The girl did not have family support in the public gallery.
The court heard her father had been unable to attend due to financial constraints.
"He did not have enough money to pay for petrol to get from Warren to Dubbo,'' a Juvenile Justice worker told Magistrate Eckhold.
The solicitor representing the girl said she had spent 12 days in custody on breaches of court orders after her father withdrew his support.
"The father had contact with her
in custody and was convinced she would comply with bail,” the solicitor said. “The father tells me she has been complying with a curfew and orders not to associate with co-accused (young offenders).
“The father says there have been issues at the school. He claims (the girl) is being bullied and then responds.’’
The court heard the girl and her co-accused alleged offenders were students at the same school.
Police said a report from the school indicated teachers were finding the girl’s behaviour difficult.
“There seems to be peer pressure,” the police prosecutor said.
Magistrate Eckhold told the girl the school would have her back.
“If you are bullied at school you need to talk to the teachers and the principal,’’ the magistrate said. “Put the problems in writing if necessary.”
Bail was granted with strict conditions. The girl was ordered to obey instructions from Juvenile Justice and her parents and carers.
She must abide by an 8pm to 7am curfew and cannot associate with two (named) co-accused, except during school hours.
A $500 bail surety was continued.