Last week, key state government representatives and youth justice organisations came together at the 5th Annual National Juvenile Justice Summit, and joined in discussions on emerging developments in juvenile justice, including intervention, diversion and rehabilitation programs, risk assessment and risk management training for staff working in the youth justice and community workforce, Indigenous youth programs, education and employment opportunities.
Chaired by Julie Edwards CEO of Jesuit Social Services, Day one of the conference was opened by Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner and Principal Commissioner Bernie Geary OAM, with keynote presentations acknowledging the disadvantage and vulnerability of young people in the juvenile justice system, and the need was stressed for a coordinated holistic approach across services to working with children and young people and their families.
Judge Peter Johnstone provided information around the four pillars of prevention, early intervention, diversion and rehabilitation in relation to stepping forward into an enlightened future in the realm of youth justice.
Larger scale organisations and programs such as Youth Drug Courts that were working, had been evaluated and passed the test were also discussed.
Dr Margaret Liddell, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies emphasised the care and consideration that should be taken regarding the buzz words of “risk assessment” and “risk management” within this group, which gained contributions from the audience, and that it is important to use the same language across services and clients.
Natasha Sindicich, Senior Research Officer within the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, NDARC, University of NSW jointly chaired Day two with Matthew Hyde, Principal of Parkville Campus. She expressed that the most poignant for her was the voices of the young people throughout the two days in their stories and drawings of their hardships, but also the positive changes they had achieved.
The second day of the conference also showcased a stand-out faculty of speakers expanding the focus to other areas of youth justice including youth gambling, programs for Pacific Islander youth, a crime prevention model, the role of an Indigenous youth worker in the Northern Territory, projects that bridge young people into education and employment, models related to educating young people in schools and initiatives to reducing recidivism for young people in custody.
The two day event was a successful congregation of an esteemed list of professionals in the youth justice area across Australia including politicians, judiciaries, academics and researchers, and people on the front line, and an opportunity to share and exchange their ideas in the hope of the greater good of improving youth justice.
Many thanks to our speakers for their contributions and time spent sharing and delivering valuable information. Thanks also to our delegates who contributed to the conference with their ideas and personal experiences of the challenges and success stories of working in the juvenile justice sector.