“The best school I’ve ever been to”: Re-connecting with education in youth detention, Australia-wide.

Ms Stavroola Anderson1

1Australasian Corrections Education Association, Sydney, Australia

In each of the 18 locations in Australia in which young people are detained on justice-related matters, operates a school or education centre. The educational staff who work in these locations navigate the requirements, restrictions, policies and procedures of both educational governing bodies and youth-justice related site administrators to provide relevant learning experiences to students with complex needs. This poster and oral presentation will provide a brief summary of education provision within justice-related youth detention across Australia. It will highlight the unique challenges that youth justice detention environments present for educational planning, programming and delivery. More importantly, it will give some insight into the outstanding and innovative work being conducted by educational staff in these environments. Such insight will help to explain why some young people have referred to their educational experience within justice-related youth detention as ‘the best school they have ever been to’.


Stavroola has expertise in providing education to students at risk of educational disengagement. Specifically, she has worked with students engaged with the juvenile justice system and students with learning difficulties, behavioural and emotional disorders, mental illness, and physical and cognitive impairments. Stavroola has a proven record in developing and implementing innovative programs, particularly relating to literacy, language development and education engagement. She has a reputation for comprehensively responding to wide-ranging educational challenges, and developing productive relationships with students and staff from a range of cultural and regional backgrounds. Stavroola is passionate about improving educational access and relevance for young people who have difficulty engaging with traditional educational systems. Currently she is undertaking research into associations between oral language skills and behaviour in young offenders.

Opportunities to disrupt the trauma to prison pipeline – a multidisciplinary approach to trauma healing

Mrs Kate Headley1, Ms Jane Davenport1, Ms Lana Draper1, Ms Megan Spencer1

1Links Trauma Healing Service, Family And Community Services Nsw, Charlestown, Australia

The majority of youth involved with the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic events, with approximately half having experienced complex trauma. This cohort of young people is well represented in the out of home care (OOHC) population.  Young people living in OOHC in NSW are reported to have appeared before the Children’s Court on criminal charges at disproportionate rates compared to children who were not in OOHC.

It has been identified that some children living in OOHC are unable to access mainstream specialist mental health services for trauma treatment because they are not diagnosed with a mental health concern. Barriers to accessing treatment for trauma are even greater for Aboriginal children.

In October 2017 a 3 year pilot study was initiated in two locations across NSW. The service delivers evidence-based trauma interventions in combination with multidisciplinary allied health services to a targeted cohort of children. The primary focus is on decreasing trauma symptoms, improving psychological wellbeing and improving behavioural and emotional functioning. These impacts are expected to have consequential secondary benefits across the child’s life including decreased or stabilization of contact with the juvenile justice system. Data around contact with the justice system is being collected for each individual across the life of the project.

The presentation will outline the structure of the service, the interventions selected from the available evidence base, describe the research methodology used and provide a case example of a young person involved in the project.


Kate Headley – Since graduating from the University of Newcastle in 2001, Kate has worked extensively in the disability sector providing direct therapeutic interventions, clinical supervision, community capacity building projects and student education. Kate’s work across Western NSW has helped her develop her knowledge of the unique challenges faced by allied health providers living in rural and remote communities. Kate is a certified Key Word Sign presenter and a trainer in Inclusive Communication and Behaviour Support. Kate currently works as part of a multidisciplinary team providing trauma treatment to children living in Out Of Home Care.

Jane Davenport – Jane is a Clinical Psychologist with over 26 years of experience within Family and Community Services. She has a strong commitment to providing highly professional, timely and evidence based practices to vulnerable children and young people. Jane is passionate about building a caring community around a child so that they can be seen through a trauma lens and be provided with a therapeutic environment to ameliorate the impact of complex trauma.

LINKS: Managing mental health in the Perth Children’s Court, a collaborative approach.

Ms Mahi Weiss1, Mr  Andrew MacDonald1

1Department Of Justice, Perth, Australia

In 2009/2010 2469 youth appeared before the Perth Children’s Court on criminal matters.  Based on national data, it was hypothesised that approximately 26% of these youth are likely to have mental health concerns.  A significant gap in mental health services for youth was identified.

In 2013 LINKS was established to meet this need. Links, is a community-based multi-disciplinary, multi-agency referral service comprised of Clinicians from Department of Justice and Health and Justice and Support Co-ordinators from a non-government provider (Outcare).    LINKS provides assistance to the Perth Children’s Court to improve co-ordination and communication between the criminal justice system, judiciary and community-based mental health services.  LINKS promotes early assessment and intervention that addresses a young person’s mental health and psycho-social needs.

Engagement with LINKS is voluntary and occurs parallel to Court processes. LINKS takes referrals from multiple sources including Magistrates, lawyers’ custody, bail services and self-referral.

Evaluation of the LINKS program has demonstrated that:

             86% of cases referred to Links received a formal mental health assessment, equating to approximately 305 assessments per year.

             57% of young people referred to Links had no history with public mental health services and 92% were not currently engaged with a mental health service.

             Of those who are case managed by Links, 88% experience clinical improvement and 77% are deemed to be at reduced risk of causing harm to themselves or others after engaging with Links.

             82% of cases had at least one identified need met by the closure date.


Mahi Weiss has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in Youth Justice for the WA Department of Justice for nine years and is currently in the role of Team Leader for the Links Youth Mental Health Support Program.  Prior to this she worked as a Youth Justice Officer since 2005 giving her over 13 years’ experience working with young people, and their families, who display violent and anti-social behaviour.  She has extensive experience working in a custodial setting and is aware of the challenges in managing mental health issues in a correctional setting.  Mahi has a particular interest in the impact of trauma on youth in the correctional setting.  She has provided numerous expert witness reports to the Courts’ including pre-sentence reports and those addressing fitness to stand trial, and has provided training on working with young people in a forensic context at a Departmental-level.

Oranga Rangatahi: Whakangao kia Haumaru a Rangatahi. Investing in prevention – An innovative indigenous approach to tackle youth offending

Mr Shaun Brown1, Mr Leon Wharekura1, Mrs Rose Wereta1, Ms Pamela South1 

1Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children, , New Zealand

Rangatahi Māori (Māori young people) are over-represented in the New Zealand youth justice system, and Oranga Tamariki — Ministry for Children recognises that communities themselves are best placed to reduce youth offending. One programme successfully combining that approach with a focus on rangatahi Māori is the Oranga Rangatahi programme, nearing its second year in the township of Huntly.

The programme, led by Oranga Tamariki alongside community partners including iwi social services, Police, Ministry of Education, the local school, and the district health board, empowers the community to change lives. Through it, young people who have been assessed as at-risk of offending, and their families, receive targeted support.

The programme has had a huge impact in Huntly and for young people, many of whom had complex family issues and were no longer engaged in education or training. It has contributed to lower rates of offending, and fewer young people entering the system. Instead, they are involved in sports, mothers groups, and gyms. Parents are engaged and show their kids they care. There is improved communication at home, and young people are making changes that inspire their families.

Participation is voluntary, with young people referred to the programme. Barriers to wellbeing are identified; needs and risks assessed, and their strengths are built on, resulting in improved plans and better outcomes for each young person. The programme prioritises relational intervention, building trust and supporting young people. The programme involves re-engagement with school and connection to community services and cultural activities that build strength.


Shaun started working for the Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki as a Regional Youth Justice Manager on 1st May 2017.  Shaun’s role initially covered the Waikato & Bay of Plenty regions but has since expanded to include Taranaki and Manawatu.  

Before taking up his role at Oranga Tamariki Shaun was effectively managing a range of challenging portfolios, projects, facilities and services whilst a regional manager at Bupa Care Services NZ. In 2012 Shaun was the winner of the prestigious EEO/Diversity Works “Walk the Talk” Award.  Prior to qualifying as a nurse Shaun had a varied career as a Registered Nurse, Farmer, Corrections Officer and Royal New Zealand Navy Medic. 

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