Embedding Indigenous cultural competency in criminal justice curriculum

Annette Gainsford1

1Charles Sturt University

Indigenous cultural competency is identified as an important graduate learning outcome that is supported through the Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020 and is reinforced through current industry standards for justice professionals. Our aim as a regional university is to produce youth justice professionals that have knowledge of how the historical and contemporary treatment of Aboriginal peoples has contributed to the over representation of Indigenous young people in the criminal justice system today. We identify that there is a gap between industry need and graduate capabilities. Therefore, we have implemented a pedagogical framework to include Indigenous cultural competency across the curriculum to produce justice professionals that possess the necessary knowledge and skills to work effectively with Indigenous youth and communities. Justice agencies continue to set objectives to better facilitate systemic disadvantage for Indigenous youth consequently requiring culturally competent criminal justice graduates to work within this field. This presentation will include the complexities of embedding Indigenous Australian content within the justice curriculum, how it might be achieved by providing a useful model for integrating contextual learning experiences and by linking cultural competency outcomes to current industry standards. Thus, providing justice graduates with foundational cultural competency skills to apply to their professional practice.

Key words: Indigenous cultural competency, over representation of Indigenous youth and crime, justice curriculum, systemic disadvantage


Annette Gainsford is a Wiradjuri woman from Bathurst, is a Lecturer in Law and Justice and an Indigenous Academic Fellow at Charles Sturt University. Annette has a background in social justice education with extensive experience in developing and maintaining collaborative community partnerships to enhance educational outcomes for tertiary students. Annette’s knowledge and experience of planning and delivery of Indigenous perspectives in the law and justice curriculum and implementing Indigenous pedagogies to assist tertiary teaching is founded from work as an Indigenous Educational Designer and Indigenous academic.

Aboriginal engagement in Juvenile Justice NSW

Yvonne Weldon, Manager Aboriginal Strategic Coordination Unit (ASCU), Juvenile Justice NSW, Sydney

Juvenile Justice NSW launched the Aboriginal Strategic Plan 2018-2022 (ASP) and Performance Framework in 2018 providing a framework for Aboriginal Engagement.  The ASCU has the responsibility for providing strategic advice across the state as well building collaborative partnerships to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in contact with the criminal justice system. In working with and for Aboriginal young people, their families and communities, Aboriginal culture and practices are fundamental in strengthening identity.

There are a number of Aboriginal programs and supports within JJs and the ASCU will provide an overview of the various initiatives provided or in development, such as; My Journey My Life, Aboriginal Strategic Advisory Committee, Aboriginal Community Consultative Committee and the annual Aboriginal Staff Conference.

Aboriginal people, their Nations, Tribes and Clans are diverse across New South Wales, there cannot be a one size fits all approach and the ASCU will demonstrate the innovative approaches in dealing with diversity and this particular emphasis is a young person centred focus through their Aboriginal identity and ongoing support.

To monitor Aboriginal engagement, the ASP Performance Framework (the framework) has been developed in consultation with stakeholders across Juvenile Justice. Regular reporting via the framework will enable compliance monitoring while also driving continuous improvement.

The framework operates over a six monthly cycle, enabling regular assessment of data and identifying areas of strength and opportunities for further development. Data collected over the life of the ASP will also provide evidence to inform resource allocation and identify gaps in strategy, policy and practice.


Yvonne Weldon is a proud Wiradjuri woman and maintains strong ties to her homelands of Cowra and the Riverina areas in New South Wales. Yvonne has worked in senior positions in Aboriginal policy development, health, human services, child care services, child protection, housing, disability and Aboriginal heritage. Yvonne is a member and Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC), board member of Domestic Violence NSW, Redfern Jarjum College, Aboriginal Children’s Service, and NSW Australian Day Council.

She has a passion for health, Aboriginal rights, children’s rights, education, research and evaluation. Yvonne received an award from the Australasian Evaluation Society for her contribution to the Evaluation of the NSW Aboriginal Child and Family Centres and was awarded a Cultural Diversity Scholarship from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

The role of speech-language pathology in the Queensland youth justice system

Mrs Stella Martin1

1Senior Practitioner, Speech and Language Pathologist, Department Of Child Safety Youth And Women, QLD

Research has identified the prevalence of language disorders amongst young people admitted to youth offender institutions is over 60%, with only 5% of these young people diagnosed before they commenced offending (Bercow, 2008; Bryan et al., 2007). Language disorders often co-morbidly exist with neuro-disabilities (e.g. FASD, ID, ASD), exposure to complex, chronic trauma, and socio-emotional and behavioural dysfunction, and impacts on their successful engagement in education, employment, and criminogenic programs.

Queensland Youth Justice is the first state in Australia to directly employ Speech Language Pathologists under Youth Justice’s clinical governance. This is an important development for both SLP practice and broader governmental agendas seeking to implement evidence-based reforms that reduce offending and reoffending. SLP interventions were found to be effective in improving the communication of young people in youth justice settings (Gregory & Bryan, 2011; Snow & Woodward, 2016).

The Queensland Youth Justice SLP Program objectives are:

  • Provide communication-accessible information for young people within youth justice settings who have communication difficulties
  • Integrate SLP perspectives with educational, health, and youth justice priorities to build connected and coordinated services
  • Support culturally-safe practices through raising awareness of the differences between Australian Aboriginal English, Torres Strait Islander languages and Standard Australian English, which was achieved through consultation with Youth Justice Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Units and the Youth Justice First Nations Actions Board.

The establishment of the Youth Justice SLP Program has contributed to positive outcomes for young people in youth justice settings and continues to deliver services in innovative ways.


Stella Martin was the first speech-language pathologist employed by a youth justice department in Australia. She has worked in the disability sector, child and youth mental health services, private practice, and in clinical managerial roles. In 2017, she commenced the development and implementation of the Speech-Language Pathology Program in Queensland’s Youth Justice. She currently provides clinical leadership in the delivery of SLP services to young people in youth detention and youth justice service centres who have complex speech, language and communication support needs.

Family support and the children’s court

Dr Emma Colvin1, Associate Professor Alison Gerard1, Associate Professor Kath McFarlane1, Dr Andrew McGrath1

1Charles Sturt University, , Australia

This paper presents some of the findings from a Criminology Research Council funded project into the criminalisation of children with care experience. The study drew on observations in the NSW Children’s Court, analysis of court files, and interviews with practitioners. Utilising these innovative mixed methods this study offers a comprehensive and contextualised understanding of how children with care experience are over-represented in the criminal justice system. In particular, this paper will focus on the value placed on having family support in the courtroom. The paper examines how family support was presented in defence submissions and the way family presence in the court was perceived by Magistrates.


Dr Colvin is a Lecturer at the Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University. She is the Co-Editor of Salus Journal and the former Editor of PacifiCrim, the newsletter of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology. She was the Managing Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology (2010-2012). Dr Colvin is currently working on two Criminology Research Council funded research projects on bail decision-making in Australia and the criminalisation of children in out-of-home-care.

Victims services counselling in prisons program

Ms Loretta Allen-weinstein1, Mr Tom Dorman2, Mrs Summer Chan2

1Juvenile Justice Nsw, Sydney, Australia, 2Victims Services, , Australia

Childhood trauma is one of the nation’s most important public health concerns, with adverse childhood experiences being one of the strongest predictors for difficulties in life.

‘Recommendation 15.7 of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sex Abuse, advocates for improved access to therapeutic treatment for survivors who are in the juvenile justice system. Approved Counselling in Juvenile Justice Centres provides an opportunity for young people in custody to address their trauma histories’.

This presentation offers an insight into the Victims Services Counselling in Prisons program, a unique partnership between Juvenile Justice and Victims Services NSW to provide a collaborative service that addresses the trauma related to victimisation of young people in custody.

By the time a child has entered the criminal justice system, they may have already been exposed to multiple traumatic experiences. Research shows that young people in custody are likely to have a history of complex trauma and/or victimisation as the result of a traumatic event in their early life. The Young People in Custody Health Survey indicates that 70% of young people in custody have experienced abuse (75% female and 70% male) and 30% have experienced severe abuse (58% female and 28% male).

Approved Counselling in Juvenile Justice Centres is a trial program aimed at encouraging young people in custody – who are victims of violent crime – to address the impact that trauma has had on their lives. Currently, the service is offered to young people in Frank Baxter, Cobham and Reiby juvenile justice centres. The service is voluntary and encourages young people to talk about their traumatic experiences, process and overcome problematic thoughts and develop effective coping and interpersonal skills.


Loretta has over twenty years experience working with disadvantaged young people in the homelessness and criminal justice sectors. She has worked in a range of environments including street work with young people involved with gangs in Los Angeles and managing non-government homeless and refuge services in Victoria and Family Support Services in NSW. Loretta set up the first multi-disciplinary youth service in Melbourne. She previously worked as a Caseworker with Juvenile Justice NSW and is currently working with Juvenile Justice in strategic planning and policy development. Loretta is an industry representative on the international organisation – Collaboration of Researchers for the Development of Effective Offender Supervision (CREDOS).

Potential applications of data science in assessing security risk

A/Prof. Garner Clancey1

1University of Sydney, , Australia

This presentation will consider potential applications of data science in understanding and predicting security risk of juvenile detainees. By using state of the art machine learning algorithms and statistical learning, the proposed risk assessment tool is dynamic, individualised and can learn based on large quantities of data. The goal is to estimate an individual’s risk based on longitudinal detainee population data, where risk is defined as the probability of violent incident occurrence within in juvenile justice detention centres.

Better understanding security risks posed by particular detainees potentially improves the operation of juvenile justice centres and makes these safer environments for staff and detainees.

The proposed techniques have not been tested in an operational environment. Consequently, the presentation will highlight potential applications.


Dr Garner Clancey is an Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of Sydney. Before joining the University of Sydney Law School in 2011, Garner worked as a crime prevention consultant (between 2002-2010) and in criminal justice (including Juvenile Justice NSW and the NSW Police Force) and alcohol and other drug agencies in NSW and England (between 1992-2002).

Innovative approaches to social inclusion, participation and rehabilitation of young people intersecting the youth justice system

Ms Lauren Cusick1, Mr Conrad Connolly1

1Jesuit Social Services, SUNSHINE, Australia

Jesuit Social Services is a social change organisation with more than 40 years’ experience working with young people and adults involved in the justice system.

We have developed a range of innovative programs to respond to the complex presentations of young people in the justice system, including the Individual Support Program, the Youth Justice Housing Program (LINK) and Next Steps.

In our presentation we will outline the three programs, exploring the models and their rationale.  We will look at some of the key challenges faced by young people involved in the youth justice system – including access to safe and affordable housing, navigating a complex and fragmented service system and a lack of suitable responses for the specific needs of this cohort.

We will share with you some of our key innovative practices across these programs including:

  • the importance of a relational, trauma informed, strengths based model
  • designing models of support that target gaps in the existing service sector
  • tailoring responses that take into account the developmental stages of young people
  • a holistic and flexible service continuum capable of responding to young people with complex needs at every stage of their journey.

Lastly, we will explore our learnings and reflections thus far from these unique programs, as well as identifying areas for future development and positive change across the services system.


Conrad Connolly has been working with Jesuit Social Services for over five years managing programs to assist young people involved in the Justice system and experiencing homelessness. Conrad has had over 25 years’ experience in supporting people experiencing homelessness. Including the development & management of both crisis and long term interventions in alleviate peoples homelessness. Conrad has a Master’s in Public Policy (RMIT) and Post graduate studies in Housing Management (Swinburne. Uni), Community Development (VUT) & Anthropology (Melb. Uni). Conrad  presently Co-chairs the North/West Youth Network and an active member of the North/West Local Area Service Network for homeless Services in Melbourne.

Lauren Cusick has been working with Jesuit Social Services for over ten years. She has worked across a range of programs that provide intensive support to young people involved in the justice system and is currently the Manager for the Individual Support Program. Lauren has previously worked in the youth housing sector as well as  education/employment services and has strong interest in finding innovative and collaborative approaches to working with young people who intersect the child protection and youth justice system. Lauren holds a BA Hons, Criminology (Melbourne University).

Design, delivery and evaluation of Qld Youth Justice’s Transition 2 Success (T2S) therapeutic and vocational service model

Mr Nicholas Dwyer1, Mrs Natasha Doherty2

1Department Child Safety, Youth And Women, Brisbane, Australia, 2Deloitte Access Economics

Transition 2 Success (T2S) is a therapeutic and vocational service model delivered within the community to young people aged 15-17 who are involved, or at risk of involvement, in the justice system due to a prolonged disengagement from education, training or employment.  The model is based on the delivery of nationally recognised certificates within a therapeutic context and seeks to develop the personal, social and practical skills young people need to access and maintain pro-social opportunities.    T2S teams work in close collaboration with Registered Training Organisations, community agencies, private businesses and other government agencies to share resources and expertise with the view of providing opportunities for participants to transition into a positive pathway.

The T2S program was established in 2015 in Queensland in response to the continued risk of offending by young people due to prolonged disengagement from education, training or employment.  A high proportion of young people referred and enrolled in T2S are those who have exhausted mainstream opportunities and who require alternative, intensive support.

T2S is currently delivered in eleven Youth Justice Service Centres in Qld and was recently subject to an external evaluation conducted by Deloitte Access Economics.  The Evaluation found that T2S was having a signficant impact on re/offending rates, reduced time spent in custody for participants and provided value for money as demonstrated through a cost-benefit analysis.   Building on the success of T2S is a government commitment noted in the recent Qld Youth Justice Strategy.


Nick Dwyer:

Nick has worked as a public servant for approaching 20 years, primarily in senior leadership roles within Qld Youth Justice.  In 2015 as Manager of Western Districts YJSC, Nick drove the inception of the Transition 2 Success service model to support marginalised young people with complex learning and behavioural needs to reengage with education and training.  Now as Director, Youth Justice Practice Development and Implementation, Nick is leading the implementation of a suite of departmental initiatives that will reform Youth Justice service delivery in Qld.

Natasha Doherty:

Natasha is a Partner within the Health Economics and Social Policy team in Deloitte Access Economics. She has over 15 years’ experience in program and policy evaluation including health, and community services industry. Natasha works with government and non-profit clients to inform evidenced based practices and policy to enhance quality of life for Australians.

Natasha has worked on a variety of evaluations at a national, state and local level, with particular focus in the areas of acute health services, primary health, mental health, innovation and redesign programs, and funding model assessments. Undertaking a variety of evaluations including applying development and participatory approaches.

Natasha has worked in the design of innovative outcomes based funding models including payment by outcomes and impact investing, and was the lead author of the Practical Guide to Understanding Social Costs published by Impact Investing Australia.

Accreditation pathway for youth lawyers in Queensland: What we know so far.

Mr David Law1, Mr Dylan Roberts1

1Legal Aid Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Recommendation 25.31 of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was that:

All legal practitioners appearing in a youth court be accredited as specialist youth justice lawyers after training in youth justice to include child and adolescent development, trauma, adolescent mental health, cognitive and communication deficits and Aboriginal cultural competence.

Recently there has been considerable change in the Queensland youth justice system. This includes the return of restorative justice as a sentencing outcome and an increase in the identification of  intellectual disability in the client cohort.   In December 2018, Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) commenced work on a new initiative to accredit youth lawyers who represent young people across the state to ensure better and more just outcomes for children charged with offences.

The project aims to enhance the skills of lawyers providing legal services to young people and create a greater understanding of the knowledge required to work with vulnerable youth. Both in-house LAQ lawyers and preferred suppliers will be required to complete the training pathway before holding juvenile files. Given the unavailability of any similar program within Australian jurisdictions, research has focused on the interface between juvenile justice and the legal profession at a national and international level. Preliminary findings and consultations within the criminal justice system suggest prospective topics of: working with neurodevelopmental deficits; developmental psychology; cultural capability; and associated legal components. Once pathway content has been finalised, LAQ plans to roll out training in the second half of 2019.


David is currently  the Assistant Director of Youth Legal Aid Queensland. He was admitted to the bar  in 1997 and has practised exclusively in youth justice  for the past ten years. He is the author of the Youth Justice Practitioners Guide , The Queensland Law Handbook chapter on children in the criminal  justice system and the Youth Justice module of Lexis Nexis’s Practical Guidance product. David is also an accredited trainer for the Australian Advocacy Institute.

Radicalisation and violent extremism: early intervention opportunities at the juvenile justice frontline

Mrs Sarah Andruchow1

1Juvenile Justice Nsw, , Australia

Prevention is better than cure. This conventional saying surely rings true for terrorism. Although the traditional approach to crime has been to respond, the present expectation of governments is to prevent crime – especially those that cause significant harm such as terrorism. Another contemporary challenge is the increasing presence of young people involved in terrorism-related offending. The recent delivery of radicalisation and extremism awareness training in Juvenile Justice NSW demonstrated that frontline juvenile justice professionals working in custodial and community environments have a unique opportunity to identify signs of radicalisation. Well prepared, skilled and resourced juvenile justice workers can support the diversion of vulnerable young people from violent extremism and in doing so, could help prevent terrorism. High standards of professionalism from juvenile justice workers contribute to counter those narratives that often directly fuel violent extremism and terrorism. This article aims to share the experiences of staff members, trainers and the agency from the recent delivery of radicalisation and violent extremism training in Juvenile Justice NSW.


Sarah is currently the Principal Project Officer in the Countering Violent Extremism team for Juvenile Justice NSW. Since commencing with Juvenile Justice NSW in October 2017, Sarah has been responsible for providing operational and strategic advice on complex policy and project issues related to countering violent extremism. This has included assessment, management and interventions with terrorism related offenders as well as outcomes and evaluation planning.

Sarah is an accomplished, qualified counter terrorism professional with over a decade of operational and strategic experience. She has an extensive knowledge base drawn from roles focusing on foreign and domestic security issues including terrorism and organised crime. Sarah is practiced in terrorism operations, investigation, prosecution and policy involving high-profile local and international incidents.

Sarah has a Master of Criminology, a Bachelor of Arts in Government and an Advanced Diploma in Public Safety. She is also qualified to deliver training and assessment services.

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