Section 2 - Progress on Strategies


Strategy One: Early Intervention

Early intervention and prevention of a child or young person’s contact with the youth justice system is the most effective way of reducing young people’s offending behaviour in the long term. This approach is about helping those children and young people who are at risk of contact with the youth justice system to become strong and to connect with the services and supports they need.

For young people who are at risk of coming into contact with the youth justice system, intervening at the right time can transform their lives and set them on the path to a positive and fulfilling adult life. For intervention to work effectively it means tackling a problem in the early stages rather than waiting until the problem is established.

Outcome

Children and young people receive supports that are responsive early in the life of a problem/s that may place them at risk of contact with the youth justice system.

Focus of work in 2012-13

The focus of work under this strategy has been about consolidating changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and undertaking new policy planning and project development associated with identified actions.

Initiatives

Focus of work/outcomes

Next steps in 2013-14

Early intervention workshops for government agencies
(Actions 1.1, 6.2)

Activity has focused on examining ways to increase early intervention across government services. This includes identifying the need for a whole-of-government early intervention and prevention model and practice framework.

Development of an early intervention and prevention framework.

Improving services with families project
(Actions 1.1, 3.2, 4.3, 6.2)

Early policy work has been undertaken to deliver a better service response to families currently accessing multiple services. A selection of families was invited to identify service system barriers and trial potential solutions.

Development of a Family Information Profile by families to support information sharing across the service system and map existing support networks. Development of independent evaluation of the Strengthening Families project, including an analysis of the co-design process, family and service level impacts, and identified systemic issues.

MPower Working Group
(Actions 1.1, 1.3, 6.2)

MPower has been established to support better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other high risk young people in the justice system through interagency collaboration and flexible support arrangements to assist in addressing the needs and managing risks of these young people. These include, but are not limited to, health and wellbeing, educational engagement and criminogenic risk and need factors.

Expanding MPower to involve single case management processes and community partnerships.

The Child, Youth and Family Support Program - the Child, Youth and Family Gateway
(Actions 1.1, 1.3, 3.4, 4.3, 6.2, 7.2)

The Child, Youth and Family Gateway (Gateway) has been established providing an initial assessment and referral service that operates under the Child, Youth and Family Support Program. The Gateway provides a single point of contact for the ACT community and service system. Children, young people and families can access information, receive initial support, complete an initial needs assessment and engage with a service. In the six months of operation from
1 January to 30 June 2013 there have been:

  • 535 telephone calls to the Gateway
  • 219 telephone referrals facilitated by Gateway officers
  • 193 referrals facilitated directly from Supportlink.

Government and community representatives will develop outcomes and key performance indicators for the Gateway.

Out of Home Care strategy
(Actions 1.1, 1.5, 6.2)

A five year strategy to provide long term planning for the development of an out of home care sector that is better able to respond to increasing complexities of children and young people who are entering the care system.

Work has included:

  • A carer survey for foster and kinship carers developed
  • A literature review on international and national best practice in out of home care developed
  • An issues paper released
  • A stakeholder engagement strategy developed.

The project is due for finalisation in June 2014 with the delivery of the Out of Home Care Strategy and Implementation Plan.

These two documents will inform a procurement process across 2014/2015 with implementation for July 2015.

Literature review on early intervention strategies, analysis of existing programs and strategic service planning
(Actions 1.1, 6.2)

Evidence-based analysis on effective early intervention and prevention strategies for reducing the number of young people involved in the youth justice system, including the release of the research paper on Youth Engagement in the ACT: Exploring integrated service delivery for young people through structure youth centres and youth participation for Families ACT and Youth Coalition ACT.

Completion of a literature review on effective early intervention and prevention strategies.

Trauma recovery centre
(Actions 1.1, 2.6)

A steering group comprising developmental trauma experts and government and community service providers formed to oversee the development of the centre. A service delivery model to be developed and services will begin in the second half of 2014.

Work to develop a centre that will provide developmental assessment and therapeutic intervention for children and young people aged 0 - 12 who have experienced abuse, neglect and present emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Engaging Schools Framework
(Actions 1.2, 4.4, 5.1, 5.3, 5.5)

Discussion paper released providing a platform for conversations upon which school communities can discuss their approach to engaging all students.
Literature review developed identifying four areas of key practice:

  • Valuing, understanding and having high expectations of every student
  • Strengthening relationships
  • Enriching connections with communities
  • Building an engaging school culture.

Work to implement initiatives to ensure that all school students are actively engaged in meaningful education, training or employment.

Early Intervention Pilot Program
(Actions 1.6, 2.8)

The Early Intervention Pilot Program is an Australian Government initiative under the National Binge Drinking Strategy. In the ACT, the pilot is a partnership between Alcohol and Drug Services in the Health Directorate and ACT Policing Court Drug Diversion Services. The program refers young people under 18 years who came into contact with police for intoxication or possession of alcohol, for assessment by health services. Education and awareness about alcohol overdose is a key element of the program. From December 2010 to June 2013, ACT Policing referred 386 young people to the program.

Ongoing work will be around strengthening awareness of the program, including targeting young people through social media to provide information and education about harmful alcohol use. ACT Health and ACT Policing have provided funding to continue this program beyond the pilot.

SupportLink
(Actions 1.1, 2.5, 6.2)

ACT Policing made a total of 5265 referrals to SupportLink, of which 323 were referrals to drug and alcohol diversion programs.

Coordinate referral process to direct young people/ families to appropriate support services.

Case study: Early intervention

Child, Youth and Family Support Program
Child, Youth and Family Gateway

Rachel and Nick’s* story

Rachel and Nick were referred to the Child Youth and Family Gateway (the Gateway) for assistance by Housing ACT in June 2013. Like many families who find their way to the Gateway service, their referral came at a time when the family was facing considerable stress in a number of areas.

Rachel and Nick were living in a house that was too small for the family’s needs; they were under financial pressure and trying to cope with their young adult children (one who was pregnant and others who had drug and alcohol problems). On top of all of this, Nick had recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The first step was a home visit by a Gateway Engagement Officer to talk to the family and get a better picture of what was happening for them, and to work out how they could be supported. Part of the Gateway Officer’s job is to make sure that people don’t have to keep telling their story over and over again. For Rachel this was a huge relief. Like many people who are doing it tough, she had experienced the sheer frustration of spending many hours explaining their situation to numerous service providers to try and get help for the family.

Following the home visit, the family agreed for their case to be raised at a Gateway weekly allocation meeting. This meant that the family could be immediately connected to a case management service who would work with them to link them to the support that was needed.

(*not their real names)

Strategy Two: Diversion

Diversion involves any process that prevents young people from entering or continuing in the formal criminal justice system. Experience shows that once a young person enters the youth justice system and receives a criminal record, they are more likely to develop a pattern of offending and their offences may get more serious. Diversion aims to avoid this as much as possible taking into consideration the safety of the community.

In contrast to prevention strategies, diversion occurs once a young person’s behaviour has come to the attention of the police. Police warnings, cautioning, supervised bail and restorative justice conferencing are all examples of diversionary processes. Diversionary initiatives in the ACT range from universal services such as public health and education to more specialised and targeted services, such as community-based sentencing and referral to the Youth Drug and Alcohol Court.

Outcome

Children, young people and their families receive targeted support early in the offending cycle to address their immediate and long term needs and reduce their likelihood of offending.

Focus of work in 2012-13

The focus of work under this strategy has been about consolidating changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and undertaking new policy planning and project development associated with the identified actions.

Initiatives

Focus of work/outcomes

Next steps in 2013-14

After-Hours Bail Support Service
(Actions 2.4, 2.5, 6.4)

In 2012-13, the service managed 673 client-related matters in relation to 169 young people. Twenty-six young people in police custody were diverted from custody at Bimberi as a result of an intervention at the ACT Watch House. The significant element of the program’s success has been the training delivered to new recruits within ACT Policing by After-Hours Bail Support Service Staff. In May 2013, the After-Hours Bail Support Service won the Excellence Category at the ACT Public Service Awards for Excellence.

Build and strengthen partnerships that can support the After-Hours Bail Support Service.

Narrabundah House Indigenous Supported Accommodation Redevelopment
(Action 2.7, 2.6)

Redevelopment of service model for the Narrabundah House Indigenous Supported Accommodation Service that was launched in August 2013. The service model aims to prevent young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 15-18 years who are serious and repeat offenders from future offending through the provision of secure accommodation, community connection and support programs.

Consolidate operating model including developing partnerships.

ACT Policing Watch House
(Actions 2.2, 2.4, 2.5, 6.4)

The ACT Watch House provides a charging and custodial facility operating 24 hours a day. ACT Watch House staff notify After-Hours Bail Support Service (AHBSS) when a young person on bail arrives at the ACT Watch House after hours, who attend and make arrangements for accommodation and other support services as needed. AHBSS staff delivered training to new recruits within ACT Policing about the services provided.

Ongoing work to review procedures to ensure that they support the recommendations of the After-Hours Bail Support Service evaluation.

ACT Policing “Front Up” Program
(Actions 2.2, 2.4, 6.4)

The program provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with a way to voluntarily attend Court without having to be processed by the ACT Watch House. The program aims to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in custody at the ACT Watch House. Since July 2012, the Aboriginal Justice Centre has processed seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the program.

Ongoing work to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in custody.

Restorative justice trial initiative:

  • Referral of all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to restorative justice
  • Referral of every first time young offender to restorative justice

(Actions 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 6.4)

Restorative justice provides offenders with an opportunity to accept responsibility, help them understand the real impacts their behaviour has had on others and to be accountable for their actions by finding ways to make amends, including repairing the harm caused and addressing their offending behaviours. Processes are also designed to meet the needs of victims by empowering them to have a voice in how an offence has affected them, providing opportunities to address unresolved issues and allowing them to have a say in deciding what needs to be done to repair the harm.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Initiative
Following initial success, the trial involving the referral of all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to restorative justice was extended from May 2012 to April 2013. Results showed a 45% increase in the number of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders referred (48), compared to the same period the previous year (33). Of those 48 referred, 20% participated in conferences and nine agreements were developed. All nine agreements were complied with resulting in a 100% compliance rate, compared to 88% for the same period the previous year.

Young First Time Offender Initiative
A total of 33 referrals consisting of 55 offences, 45 young offenders and 36 victims were received during the trial period, 1 November 2012 to 30 April 2013. All young offenders were referred as a diversionary measure. Of the young offenders referred, 4 are still undergoing assessment, 24 went to conference and 17 did not proceed to conference. Excluding those still undergoing assessment, 59% of those referred participated in conferences. Of the 24 young offenders that went to conference, 24 agreements were negotiated. Of these agreements, 6 are still currently being monitored, 4 whereby the conference itself satisfied the victims’ needs, 12 were complied with and 2 have failed to be complied with. Excluding those agreements still being monitored, 89% have complied with their agreements.

Ongoing work between ACT Policing and the Justice and Community Safety Directorate to embed the trial initiatives into everyday practice, including training and refresher presentations and work to develop best practice in responding to the identified needs of diverse groups referred to restorative justice.

Galambany Court (circle sentencing) processes
(Action 2.3)

This court works to provide a culturally relevant sentencing option in the ACT Magistrates Court for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders. The Circle Sentencing process gives the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community an opportunity to work with the ACT criminal justice system to address over-representation and offending behaviour.

A community review of the Galambany Court was undertaken with work already commencing on some of the agreed recommendations including:

  • the development and distribution of new information pamphlets
  • the development of eligibility criteria for the recruitment of Panel Members
  • mandatory accredited training for all new Panel Members
  • recognition of prior learning for existing Panel Members who have not completed the accredited training
  • specific training for Panel Members on working with family violence matters as well as with victims who may be involved with the Court.

Agreed recommendations to be implemented over the next 12 months.

ACT Drug Diversion Programs evaluation
(1.6, 2.8)

In February 2013, the Evaluation of Australian Capital Territory Drug Diversion Programs was completed. The aim was to evaluate ACT Alcohol and other Drug diversion programs focusing on how the system of five programs operates together instead of inputs and outcomes of individual programs.

Explore options in response to the recommendations of the evaluation.

Youth Drug and Alcohol Court
(1.6, 2.9)

The Community Services Directorate has undertaken preliminary work collaborating with the Health Directorate on the development of an evaluation for the two-year trial program. In 2012-13, one young person was referred for assessment of their suitability for the program. The program provides an intensive and holistic tertiary diversionary option for young people with a drug or alcohol problem who are at high risk of being sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

Ongoing work to evaluate the effectiveness and viability of the program.

Case study: Diversion

After-Hours Bail Support Service

Sharon’s* story...

Sharon is a 15 year old Aboriginal woman who is on a care order with Care and Protection Services. She is currently involved with Youth Justice Case Management on a Good Behaviour Order.

Sharon came into contact with the After-Hours Bail Support Service (the AHBSS) after police requested bail support for her. Sharon had been charged with trespassing and was in custody in the ACT Policing Watch House.

The police were considering conditional bail for her, but were concerned about her living arrangements (Sharon was 14 at the time). Staff from the AHBSS assessed Sharon as being suitable to remain in the community but agreed that she needed alternative accommodation. The AHBSS worked with Care and Protection Services to find suitable accommodation and transport and also negotiated with police for Sharon to be granted bail.

Sharon has also contacted the AHBSS on another occasion. This was after she had asked for a change to the conditions of her order to allow her to live at a different address. While her request was not agreed to, staff at the AHBSS talked her through the reason for the decision and made sure she understood what she needed to do to meet the existing conditions of her order.

Sharon’s story demonstrates how the AHBSS works closely with statutory agencies to divert a young person from custody where this is appropriate and in supporting them to comply with the conditions of their community orders.

(*not her real name)

Strategy Three: Participation

Ensuring the participation of children, young people and their families in decisions that affect them will encourage the development and ownership of solutions. This means ensuring case plans are culturally appropriate and a young person’s family and natural supports are strengthened to support them. It also means providing young people and their families with information that clearly sets outs their rights, responsibilities and the processes of the youth justice system.

By giving young people and their families the opportunity to identify problems and find solutions, services can also be tailored to best meet their needs. This strategy aspires to a system that works with children, young people and their families to develop and design programs and services that affect them.

Outcome

Children, young people and their families are valued and encouraged to have a voice in matters that affect them as well as the ongoing development of the youth justice system.

Focus of work in 2012-13

The focus of work under this strategy has been about consolidating changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and undertaking new policy planning and project development associated with the identified actions.

Initiatives

Focus of work/outcomes

Next steps in 2013-14

Cultural care planning in case management processes
(Actions 3.1, 1.3, 4.2, 5.6)

Cultural care planning in case management processes aims to provide staff with strategies and tools to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their families to ensure culturally competent practice.

Preliminary policy work undertaken including research into:

  • different approaches to cultural care when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people
  • strategies that enable the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in developing and implementing case plans.

Progress policy work and implement cultural care planning in case management processes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Justice Programs and Services Coordination Committee
(Action 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.6)

Work to date includes providing oversight and contributing to the design and implementation of the new Narrabundah House Indigenous Supported Accommodation Service, launched in August 2013.

Overseen the development of the Dunial program, a comprehensive cultural program for young people at Bimberi involving individual and family counselling, cultural supervision and the Yarning Program. The program is delivered by Relationships Australia Canberra and Region.

The Committee will continue to provide oversight of programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Bimberi, identify gaps in service provision and to provide cultural guidance in service delivery and practice.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Justice Programs and Services Forum
(Action 3.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.6)

In May 2012, a forum was held with 35 people representing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, government and non-government organisations to discuss how to provide culturally safe responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their families.

The aim of the forum was to facilitate co-design strategies for improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who are in contact with the youth justice system. A key outcome from the forum was the establishment of the Dunial program (see above).

Future forums to be determined.

Family Engagement Officer at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre
(Action 3.2)

The new position of Family Engagement Officer has been created and filled. The officer commenced at Bimberi in February 2013. The role is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identified position that was co-designed with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Continue to assist the engagement of families of young people, promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the day to day functions of Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and provide a point of contact and communication for services seeking to engage and support young people in custody.

Family Engagement Plan
(Action 3.2)

Work to commence in 2013-14.

Work to commence in 2013-14.

Positively engaging children, young people and their families at Court
(Action 3.3)

Preliminary work underway to develop resources to improve understanding of court processes and bail requirements and reduce breaches of bail and court orders.

Progress initial work including consultation with young people and their families to develop communication resources.

Restorative justice trial initiative:

  • Referral of all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to restorative justice
  • Referral of every first time young offender to restorative justice

(Actions 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 6.4)

While restorative justice is a diversionary initiative, participation is also a fundamental objective of restorative justice. Restorative justice processes encourage the participation of young people and their families in decisions that affect them. Restorative justice also supports participation from victims by empowering them to have a voice in how an offence has affected them.

(See above under Strategy Two: Diversion p21)

(See above under Strategy Two: Diversion p21)

New Supreme and Magistrates Courts’ building design
(Action 3.5)

Currently, spaces are available in the courts for service providers and community groups, although there is no designated space for any particular service or group. Any work to allocate space or to manage sub-tenancies is the responsibility of courts management.

Future work on the building design of courts will include the co-location of the Forensic Mental Health Service, Youth Justice Case Management and the Court Alcohol and Drug Assessment Service. Work is expected to commence on this project in 2013-14.

Case Study: Participation

Restorative Justice Trial

Michael’s* story

Michael* is a young Aboriginal man who was referred to restorative justice in 2011 after being caught for breaking into a house with several other young people.

As part of the restorative justice process, Michael met with the family who lived in the house and who had also agreed to a face-to-face conference. During the conference, the family had a chance to talk about how Michael’s offence had affected them and what would help them to deal with their experience. As well as expressing their concern about the damage that had occurred, they were generous in their concern for Michael and his future, especially if he continued to commit crimes.

For Michael, who had a background of family conflict and negative peer influences, the conference was very challenging. With the support of the Indigenous Guidance Partner, he was able to complete the process and take responsibility for his actions and come to an agreement about how he could make amends.

Part of the outcome of the conference was a commitment by Michael to find ways to connect with young Aboriginal people who might be in a similar situation. He believed that others could learn from his experience of restorative justice. Michael wrote about his reflections on his personal journey and why he decided to be part of the process, eventually turning this into a written presentation.

After seeing the presentation, one Magistrate forwarded it to colleagues as a compelling expression of the positive outcomes that could be achieved through restorative justice.

(*not his real name)

Strategy Four: Support

Each child and young person’s circumstances are particular to them and responses need to be tailored to those circumstances if the response is to be successful. There is significant evidence that intensive, individualised support at times of crisis can significantly improve the outcomes for children and young people and their families.

Providing intensive, individualised support includes practical measures to help young people and their families to meet their obligations or specific interventions that build the capacity of young people and their families to make sure the changes necessary help to prevent future offending. The focus is to provide a service delivery approach where children, young people and their families are given the right type and intensity of support at the right time.

Outcome

Children, young people and their families are strengthened and services meet their individual needs.

Focus of work in 2012-13

The focus of work under this strategy has been about consolidating changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and undertaking new policy planning and project development associated with the identified actions.

Initiatives

Focus of work/outcomes

Next steps in 2013-14

Single Case Management
(Action 3.1, 4.1, 5.1)

A single case management model has been fully implemented across Youth Services. The model provides coordinated case management that focuses on the needs of young people with continuity of a case manager for young people in Bimberi or supervised in the community.

The delivery of single case management has been enhanced by the Bimberi Integrated Management System. A working group has been established to expand the single case management approach to link with community services.

Identify and map service gaps in the single case management process including gaps in other agencies processes to strengthen case management processes with community services. Strengthen links and information sharing with the Child, Youth and Family Support Program.

Turnaround program
(Actions 4.1, 5.1, 5.2)

Young people in the Turnaround Program are provided with an intensive and coordinated case plan that assists them to gain education and/or work readiness skills, living skills and community connections.

Twenty-eight young people were supported by the Turnaround Program in 2012-13.

Ongoing work to provide intensive and coordinated support young people with complex needs.

Education and skills development at Bimberi
(Actions 4.1, 5.1, 5.5)

Education and skills development provides young people with training and vocational programs to develop skills to support them gaining employment on their reintegration into the community.

Key activities provided include:

  • The Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre employed two part-time tutors to work individually with young people in the school's literacy program.
  • The Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre established a program to support young people who are exiting Bimberi with their transition into education, training and/or employment, and a weekly cultural program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people has been established.
  • In October 2012 Bimberi celebrated the opening of a new fire pit built by four young people as part of the Bricks and Blocks Program, an initiative that is designed to give young people an insight into the building industry.
  • Twenty-six young people participated in skills and resilience-based programs, including barista training and a Work Ready Training Program.
  • Forty-eight young people received training certificates including Certificate III in Business, Certificate III and IV in Fitness and Certificate II in Horticulture.

Ongoing work to provide education and skills development at Bimberi.

ACT Youth Commitment
(Actions 1.2, 4.4, 5.1, 5.3, 5.5)

The ACT Youth Commitment requires all agencies working with young people up to the age of 17 to commit to ensuring that no young person is lost from education, training or employment.
A Student Engagement Working Group has been established to enhance guidelines and procedures to enable the Education and Training Directorate to track, monitor and respond to the needs of ACT students aged 6-17 years.
An increased number of young people have participated in Pathways Planning assisting young people to transition from school and post school.

The Career and Transitions (CaT) website will be implemented by February 2014.

The website will include online Pathways Plans, Individual Learning Plans and Personalised Learning Strategies, and link to more comprehensive career information and resources.

Early Intervention Pilot Program
(Actions 1.6, 2.8)

While this program is an early intervention initiative, support is also a fundamental objective of the program.

(See above under Strategy One: Early Intervention p18)

(See above under Strategy One: Early Intervention p18)

Case study: Support

Drug and alcohol support for young people

The Early Intervention Pilot Project is an Australian Government initiative under the National Binge Drinking Strategy. The project refers young people under 18 years who come into contact with police after being found intoxicated or in possession of alcohol, into health services. In the ACT, the pilot is a partnership between ACT Policing and the Police and Court Drug Diversion Services within the Alcohol and Drug Services in the Health Directorate.

Young people who are referred complete an alcohol or other drug use history and a bio-psychosocial assessment. This assessment is based around questions to gather information about the young person’s physical, psychological and social issues. Following this, a young person will receive education and/or referral to appropriate treatment and support. Family members and friends who accompany a young person can also access information as support.

Early on in the project, drug and alcohol workers found that young people had little understanding of alcohol overdose or how to manage situations where they or their friends were at risk of overdose. In response to this, a wallet-card containing the signs of alcohol overdose and what to do in a situation was trialled. The primary message was about seeking professional medical advice and support, to ‘be safe not sorry’. Young people responded well to the initiative and services for young people also reported that the card was a valuable resource in starting the conversation about how young people can increase their knowledge about harmful alcohol use.

Further work on the project has been around developing an alcohol education checklist for alcohol and drug workers to refer to and ensure that essential and consistent information is provided to young people. The checklist has been extended to include cannabis, ecstasy, energy drinks and heroin. The positive response to the initiative demonstrates that there is scope for adapting the program for use with social media. ACT Health and ACT Policing have provided funding to continue this program.

Strategy Five: Reintegration

High-quality services that work to address the causes of offending while in detention and follow the young person into the community on release are vital to prevent re-offending. Assisting young people from the time they enter Bimberi Youth Justice Centre until they are successfully
re-established in the community after their period of detention is the key objective of this strategy.

Detention is a last resort. In some cases, detention provides an opportunity to identify and address the circumstances that led to offending. Rehabilitation in detention will only be successful if it is complemented by a planned program of supports in the community upon a young person’s release. This includes the provision of mentoring services, accommodation options and flexible learning options to improve a young person’s reconnection with the community and to establish a better life.

Outcome

Children and young people have access to supports and services to successfully reconnect with the community and the likelihood of re-offending is reduced.

Focus of work for 2012-13

The focus of work under this strategy has been about consolidating changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and undertaking new policy planning and project development associated with the identified actions.

Initiatives

Focus of work/outcomes

Next steps in 2013-14

Bendora Transition Unit at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre
(Action 5.1, 5.4)

The Unit teaches independent living skills, provides access to planned leave for work experience and encourages positive peer relationships. Ongoing work undertaken in the Unit has led to more young people being given community leave to participate in work or recreation activities to better prepare them for return to the community. Twelve young people participated in the Unit in 2012-13. Planning has commenced for a review of the Unit and early indications are that it is achieving positive outcomes.

Continue to provide intensive and targeted programs to young people to assist with moving from custody to the community while in detention at the Centre.

Housing For Young People Program
(Action 5.2)

Ongoing work to coordinate youth housing homelessness services with the Child, Youth and Family Support Program (CYFSP) to address service capacity issues in youth housing. This includes the development of key performance indicators on referral pathways goals.

Formal protocols between services to be established over 2013-14.

Flexible learning options
(1.2, 4.4, 5.3)

This work is ongoing and recognises and responds to the different learning styles and needs of students, particularly those students at risk of being or already disengaged from school. Flexible learning options are available for year 9 -12 students in a variety of industry areas, resulting in nationally recognised vocational qualifications. 190 students participated in flexible learning options with 84% achieving a full vocational certificate and an additional 4% achieving a partial certificate.

Engaging Schools Discussion paper out for consultation in term 3 2013. Ongoing work to develop flexible learning options.

Conditional release options
(Action 5.4, 5.1)

Community Services Directorate and Justice and Community Safety Directorate undertook initial policy work to explore options to support the successful transition of young people from custody to the community.

Work to develop options is ongoing.

Formal partnerships with the community sector
(Action 5.6)

Preliminary policy work undertaken to map a range of community services targeting young people in the youth justice system, including health, education, housing, family support, employment and training, cultural support and youth services.

Progress policy work to identify how current partnerships with the community sector, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers, can be strengthened to ensure services in the youth justice system are flexible, coordinated and needs focused.

Case study: Reintegration

Bendora Transition Unit

Alex’s* story...

Alex entered the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre (Bimberi) after a conviction for property and violence offences when he was 17. This was his first custodial sentence. Around the time of his offending, Alex was experiencing significant change in his life - his parents had separated and were in new relationships, he was frequently using alcohol and marijuana and he became involved with a group of young people whose anti-social and offending behaviour had a strong influence over Alex.

For Alex, coming into Bimberi was a chance to take stock and make some decisions about different areas of his life. He was able to continue his education and work through his drug and alcohol problems. Alex was supported to learn social and relationship building skills and this helped him to resolve issues with his parents and to strengthen a connection with his sister.

Alex’s positive attitude in Bimberi meant he was well suited to move into the Bendora Transition Unit. Bendora supports young people to live more independently to help them move from detention into the community. In Bendora, young people have a chance to develop their living skills such as cooking and managing their money. They are also allowed to take approved leave from Bimberi to help them prepare for a successful transition to restart their lives.

It is now 18 months since Alex has left Bimberi. He is a more confident and independent young person. Alex has started a trade, drives his own car and is working. He continues to be part of the community recreational program that he started while in Bimberi. Alex has not re-offended since he has been out of custody.

(*not his real name)

Strategy Six: Collaboration

A comprehensive and effective youth justice strategy that delivers the best outcomes for children, young people and their families relies on coordinated action by government and authentic participation of the community. The ACT Government has placed significant priority on agencies working collaboratively to achieve better outcomes for children, young people and their families.

A whole of government and community approach to youth justice focuses on the need to break down barriers to communication and to get people within agencies to work as part of one inclusive sector. By collaborating effectively, government agencies must work together and with community organisations, regardless of organisational boundaries. Working effectively across government and community will support continuous improvement and seek better ways of doing things.

Outcome

A shared responsibility across government and community for reducing offending and
re-offending by young people.

Focus of work in 2012-13

The focus of work under this strategy has been about consolidating changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and undertaking new policy planning and project development associated with the identified actions.

Initiatives

Focus of work/outcomes

Next steps in 2013-14

Multi-agency cross-sector statutory mechanism
(Actions 1.1, 6.1, 6.2, 6.6)

Preliminary policy work undertaken to explore multidisciplinary service responses for defined children and young people who are suspected of having experienced abuse or neglect.

Progress policy work to investigate multi-agency cross-sector statutory mechanism.

Improvements to the ACT Criminal Justice Statistical Profile
(Action 6.6)

The ACT Criminal Justice Statistical Profile provides quarterly updates of trends in recorded criminal offences in the ACT.

The profile was reviewed during 2012-13 to improve the collection of youth justice data (particularly for community-based supervision) to include expanded age and gender breakdowns across all data sets and enhance offence comparability.

Improvements to the profile will be included in the 2013-14 quarterly update.

Performance and evaluation framework
(Action 6.5)

Preliminary policy work undertaken to develop a scoping paper to ensure that a common evaluation process is used across staged evaluations. The framework will also inform the continuing development of the youth justice system and services across the ACT.

Progress policy work to develop the framework.

Information sharing protocol
(Action 1.7, 6.1, 6.6)

Information sharing protocol with Forensic Mental Health Services and Justice Health has been developed and implemented.

The protocol will enable the timely and appropriate sharing of information between key service providers to deliver coordinated and continuous service provision to all young people entering and exiting Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

Follow-up work on implementation as required.

Case study: Collaboration

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs and Services Coordination Committee

While there is good work happening in the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, this group of young people continues to be over-represented in the youth justice system. It is clear that for many young people and their families, services and supports do not always match needs, are not culturally responsive or linked in the best way.

Genuine engagement between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the youth justice system in tackling this challenge has been boosted with the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Justice Programs and Service Coordination Committee. The group has a clear brief to influence how supports can work better in helping to get young lives back on track. Membership is a mix of Aboriginal elders, community members and staff from across all areas of youth justice. The group meets on a quarterly basis.

“Our role is to listen, share knowledge and guide how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people can be better supported when on community-based supervision and in Bimberi Youth Justice Centre”, said Mark Collis, co-chair.

“We want to see services and programs for young people and their families that have the right focus and that are linked in the best way. And these have to be absolutely grounded in the respect and understanding of culture”.

While it is early days for the Committee, so far members have been involved in a number of specific projects as well as providing general guidance on developing culturally specific programs, including training for workers. This initiative will take time to bring results that are measurable, but a commitment to genuine partnership for change is a solid place to start.

Strategy Seven: Workforce

A skilled youth justice workforce is critical to the delivery of effective youth justice outcomes. Building a strong and capable workforce is about more than just training staff-a long-term workforce plan is required to build and sustain workforce capacity and capability. It is also acknowledged that the workforce needs to have the capability to respond to needs of culturally and linguistically diverse children and young people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to adapt to changes in context and practice over the life of the Blueprint.

Outcome

People who work in the youth justice system have the skills and capabilities to meet the needs of young people and their families.

Focus of work in 2012-13

The focus of work under this strategy has been about consolidating changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and undertaking new policy planning and project development associated with the identified actions.

Initiatives

Focus of work/outcomes

Next steps in 2013-14

Integrated Management System at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre
(Actions 4.1, 7.1, 7.4, 7.7)

Implementation of the Integrated Management System (IMS) at Bimberi has supported youth justice staff in their work with young people by connecting every aspect of the operations at Bimberi.

Key activities delivered through the IMS include:

  • a strategic framework for Bimberi including a vision and mission developed in consultation with young people
  • a comprehensive set of operational policies and procedures, flow charts and practice guides for staff that describe and guide operational practices
  • the integration of risk management within daily operations
  • a training framework that is embedded as a key aspect of delivering quality services to children and young people
  • a knowledge portal that provides staff with access to information.

Monitoring and review of the IMS as required.

Workforce Development Strategy
(Action 7.1)

Ongoing work to assist the Community Services Directorate to address its workforce capacity and capability to meet its objectives, now and into the future. Key activities include:

  • a Valuing our People project which includes new ways of engaging with staff, revised staff retention tools, staff separation and stay surveys, and training package to support Respect Equity and Diversity Officers.
  • a revised Performance Management Program with mentoring and support provided for managers and staff, new performance agreement templates and a target set for performance agreements in place for 80% of the workforce.

Progress work to deliver actions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Service
(3.2, 4.2, 5.6, 7.2, 7.6)

ACT Council of Social Services were engaged to provide the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Service to build cultural awareness, engagement and capacity within the community sector.

Facilitate improved connection between government and community services to develop cultural understanding and proficiency across policy and practice for service delivery.

Bimberi Annual Training Plan
(Action 7.4)

Bimberi Annual Training Plan developed and implemented to ensure workforce capability requirements for staff are met and to identify current and future training needs.

Action is complete. Monitoring and updating the Training Plan as required.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the youth justice workforce
(Action 7.6)

Ongoing work to attract and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the youth justice workforce. Within the Community Services Directorate, the number of staff identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander has improved slightly from 35 or 2.7% in 2011-12 to 39 or 3% of staff in 2012-13.

Ongoing work to attract and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the youth justice workforce.

Australian Institute of Criminology and Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators Conference 2013
(Action 7.8)

The inaugural Australasian Youth Justice Conference was held on 22-22 May 2013 in Canberra. The theme of the conference was changing trajectories of offending and re-offending. The aim of the conference was to support professional development through the presentation of the latest research findings and international and national best practice in youth justice. Approximately 250 delegates attended, including international delegates and front line ACT Youth Services staff.

Action is complete. Planning for future conferences is to be considered.

Case study: Workforce

Youth Workers at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre

A youth worker is usually the first person to meet a young person when they arrive at Bimberi.

From that point, it is a youth worker’s job to make sure that a young person has their immediate needs met, are given information about their rights and obligations and about what happens each day. A youth worker is also there if a young person wants someone to talk to about any concerns.

Much more than ‘supervisors’ of young people in detention, youth workers at Bimberi are now highly skilled and sought after. They come from a range of career choices. This diversity is also reflected in the ages, life experiences and cultural backgrounds of staff.

“Our workforce, along with reviewed and updated policies and procedures has been an important part of the change and reform process of the ACT’s youth justice system since 2008 when the Centre was first opened,” said Greg Corben, Manager, Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

“This has included a change in our organisational culture, the way we recruit staff and in the professionalisation of the workforce”, said Mark Collis, Director Youth Services. “Staffing in a custodial environment like Bimberi is now a long way from a time when workers provided a service based largely on their own intuition in making decisions.”

Since April 2012, Bimberi has had 36 youth workers who have graduated with a Certificate IV/Diploma in Youth Work from Canberra Institute of Technology. One recent graduate, Jodie Muir said, “The knowledge and skills we have gained are invaluable for our role to supervise, support and show guidance to the young people we work with.” Following their graduation, several youth workers have gone on to undertake further tertiary study.

“We are aiming for best practice in the way Bimberi is managed,” said Greg. “But ultimately our work is about helping young people turn their lives around and our youth workers are a big part of helping them to make this happen.”

Linking data trends and the Blueprint’s strategies

This first annual report indicates that the focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion is having positive outcomes for young people and their families. Our data picture shows reduced numbers of young people coming into contact with, or becoming further involved in the youth justice system. Initiatives that are making an early difference and involve key youth justice agencies working together are the:

In 2012-13, the After-Hours Bail Support Service received over 670 client-related matters relating to nearly 170 young people. Importantly, this work resulted in 26 young people being diverted from custody. In recognition of its success, the After-Hours Bail Support Service won the ACT Public Service Award for Excellence earlier this year.

The increased referral of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and first-time offenders to a restorative justice process is also demonstrating positive outcomes. There has been a 45 per cent increase in the number of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders referred to restorative justice in 2012-13, compared to the previous year. In addition, 53 percent of all first-time young offenders were referred to restorative justice.

The Early Intervention Pilot Program aims to provide alcohol and other drugs education, referral and treatment to young people caught on underage drinking offences. From December 2010 to June 2013, ACT Policing referred 386 young people to the program. The strategies and actions identified in the Blueprint are about finding better ways to support children, young people and their families who are vulnerable to, or at risk of, coming into contact with the youth justice system through their offending behaviour. In just the past year, we have seen the number of days young people spent in the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre reduced by 22 per cent, and by 47 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Next steps in 2013-14

Work will continue to consolidate changes to policy initiatives and practice already underway and to undertake policy planning and project development. The focus on establishing early intervention and prevention initiatives will continue over the next year. This will include progressing work to establish a performance and evaluation framework.

The Youth Justice Blueprint Implementation Group has identified the following areas of
focus in 2013-14:

While there has been a 47 per cent reduction in the number of days Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people spent in detention in 2012-13, work needs to continue to reduce their disproportionate representation in the ACT youth justice system. This includes building on services with the help of the community that have been established to address this concern.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Justice Programs and Service Coordination Committee has been established to provide advice on the development of targeted responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people on community-based supervision and in Bimberi Youth Justice Centre. In addition, the M-Power program has been established to provide interagency collaboration and flexible support arrangements to assist in addressing the needs and managing risks of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

These include, but are not limited to, health and wellbeing, educational engagement and criminogenic risk and need factors.

Further work will also be undertaken on the six actions that have yet to commence.

These actions are:

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