There has been wide-spread community outrage after it was revealed in the height of Tuesday's Catastrophic fire conditions a nine-year-old boy started a grass fire at Worrigee with a blowtorch.
The small fire was started in long grass off Stanbury Place, Worrigee around 11.35am and was quickly extinguished by NSW Fire and Rescue Nowra and an Ulladulla Rural Fire Service crews.
The blaze burnt out an area of grass and bush about 10 metres by 20 metres in an area adjacent Sullivan Street.
When the story initially broke on the South Coast Register's website and Facebook pages, with police saying it was suspicious, there was outrage.
Then later in the day when it was revealed the fire had been started by a nine-year-old with a blowtorch, our pages almost went into meltdown.
On Facebook the story reached more than 15,000 people, had 18200 engagements, was shared 1400 times and attracted 480 plus comments.
While that might not mean anything to you - for us it was one of the most wide read stories we have had in recent times.
Such was the reach of the story - we even received Letters to the Editor from some of the fire affected areas on the North Coast.
Investigations led police to the nine-year-old boy who was spoken to in the presence of his parents.
What is the Young Offenders Act?
The Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW) (YOA) establishes an alternate regime of dealing with young persons who commit certain offences by diverting them from the Children's Court.
The YOA provides the legislative framework for the giving of warnings, cautions and youth justice conferences (YJC), with conference schemes already existing in Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
The Act established the national age of criminal responsibility at 10-years-old, and said that youths can only be prosecuted if they break a law of the criminal code (previously, youths could be prosecuted or punished solely on the grounds that it was in the youth's best interests).
The Act, for children aged over 10 and under 18, aims to make young offenders take responsibility for their actions, acknowledge the rights of the victim, avoid the cost and time of a court appearance and most importantly - steer young offenders away from detention.
The Young Offenders Act 1997 responds to a number of complex and sensitive issues identified by the government.
It aims to:
- make young offenders responsible for their actions and to encourage their families and communities to share this responsibility;
- strengthen the rights of the victim and repair some of the damage caused by crime;
- involve the victims and their families in the conference decision-making process;
- make the juvenile justice system more responsive to individual circumstances;
- reduce the time and costs involved in the court system;
- reduce the human costs of too many young people in detention;
- improve public confidence in the juvenile justice system.