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Youth Justice – Additional Support for Young People

1. About young people in youth justice

Victorian young people in youth justice are among the State’s most vulnerable. Research shows that engagement in education is the most important protective factor for this group. Once in contact with the justice system, educational initiatives are a vital means of forging positive community links and establishing purposeful, structured activities for young people and to strengthen a key protective factor that will divert children and young people away from offending.

Additional education support is needed to:

Young people in Victoria’s youth justice system are among the State’s MOST vulnerable

Young people within Victoria’s youth justice system are some of the State’s most vulnerable. There is a significant over-representation of some communities and vulnerable groups, where:

  • 53% were a victim of abuse, trauma or neglect as a child
  • 41% either have a current child protection case (or were previously subject to a child protection order)
  • 49% present with mental health issues
  • 42% have been witness to family violence
  • 52% have a history of alcohol and drug use
  • 21% live in unsafe or unstable housing
  • 31% present with cognitive difficulties that impact on daily functioning (and 4% are NDIS participants).

Source: Victoria’s Youth Justice Strategy 2020-2030External Link

Experiences of trauma create complex barriers to engagement in education. Trauma can significantly disrupt development, and impact on behaviours and relationships. Exposure to multiple traumas can lead to even higher rates of learning and behavioural problems.

Reflecting patterns of intergenerational trauma associated with dispossession, marginalisation, racism and the stolen generations, Aboriginal1 young people are significantly over represented in youth justice. 18 per cent of young people in youth justice identify as Aboriginal, despite making up 1.6 percent of the general Victorian population of young people.

Additionally, culturally and linguistically diverse young people are overrepresented in youth justice and make up 39 per cent of young people in youth justice, with notable populations of young people from African and Pasifika backgrounds.

About Victoria’s Youth Justice system (community and custody)

In Victoria, most young people who appear before the Children’s Courts on a criminal matter are diverted from custody on Intensive Bail/Youth Control Orders and Community-Based Orders. Children under 10 do not enter youth justice as they fall below the age of 'criminal responsibility'. Victoria’s dual-track system enables young people between 18 and 20 to be sentenced to a youth justice facility rather than an adult prison.

Young people appearing before Victoria’s Children’s Courts and in any of Victoria’s Koorie Children’s Courts can access Education Justice Initiative (PDF)External Link workers who provide information, referral and advocacy services.

On any given day, there are approximately:

  • 590 young people under 18 in community youth justice (each young person is assigned a Youth Justice Case Managers, who works to identify risks and coordinate support)
  • 128 young people under 18 in custody (they are sentenced or remanded within Victoria's youth justice facilities).

Source: Victoria's Youth Justice Strategy 2020-2030External Link .

With well-established programs designed to support and divert young people from future offending, Victoria has a relatively low rate of young people in custody. For those who are held in custody, onsite education is provided 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year through Parkville College. Parkville College is a government school that delivers as appropriate the Victorian Curriculum F-10 and the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), including the VCE Vocational Major, Victoria Pathways Certivicate and Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Youth Justice Case Management

Young people in youth justice are assigned a Youth Justice Case Manager, who:

  • work with the young person to identify criminogenic risks and needs and coordinate support
  • chair Care Team meetings (in most cases), working with key service providers to plan, review and coordinate tasks, actions and services needed to ensure that a young person’s criminogenic and non-criminogenic needs are met.

Educators may be asked to attend Care Team meetings, or may request to attend where this is supportive of a young person’s positive engagement in education.

1 Throughout this document the term Aboriginal is used to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Guidance chapter giving an overview of young people in youth justice

Reviewed 27 February 2023

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