Our interventions and supports need to respond to individual risks and needs so we can harness young people’s strengths, promote rehabilitation, minimise reoffending risks and protect the community.


  1. Delivering individualised case management for each child and young person.
  2. Delivering strengthened programs and interventions
  3. Providing an effective and safe Youth Justice custodial system.
  4. Introducing a new youth justice facility and implementing an interim three-precinct custodial system.
  5. Developing a new legislative framework for Youth Justice.

Delivering individualised case management for every child and young person

Each child and young person in Youth Justice has unique risks and needs. Recognising this diversity, we launched a new case management approach in February 2019. This involves a more structured, individualised and whole-of-system way of working. The new approach responds to a young person’s assessed risks and needs and ensures continuity of care throughout their contact with Youth Justice.

Young people in Youth Justice emphasise how important family is in their lives, and they are concerned about the disconnection that can occur when they offend.

Engaging with families is not always straightforward. Families or parents may be absent, unable to provide safe care or have experienced their own trauma and disadvantage. One-third of the young people surveyed for the Armytage Ogloff Youth Justice review said family was the main driver for engaging in serious or violent offending. The new case management approach sets up structures to engage, empower and establish trust with families to assist them to improve their child’s behaviour.

Key actions 2020–2024

Youth Justice will:

  • Deliver an integrated model of case management to ensure continuity and consistency of care across Youth Justice community and custodial systems, led by community case managers.
  • Through case management, ensure every effort is made to consult with and involve families and significant others in planning and decision making for their child or young person, including during case planning, at court and if the young person is in custody. This includes:
    • providing regular and clear information to families and significant others on what is happening for children and young people at each stage, what they can expect from Youth Justice, and what is expected from them and the child or young person
    • improving relationships between young people and their families, and reducing offending, by trialling evidence-based family therapeutic interventions, such as Multi-systemic Therapy and Functional Family Therapy.
  • Embed the new assessment process, using validated assessment tools to inform case management.
  • Use the risk–need–responsivity approach to address young people’s needs and reduce their risk of reoffending. This approach matches services to risk, addresses offending-related needs and responds to individual characteristics.
  • Build partnerships with children and young people, families and all services and professionals to support effective rehabilitation.
  • This includes establishing links with young people and their families through a network of community supports. Community Support Groups in Victoria’s south-east and west currently work closely with the Sudanese community and connect young people and their families to existing and new activities to improve health and wellbeing, education, training and employment outcomes and community participation.
  • Ensure that case managers commence reintegration planning as soon as the young person enters custody. This involves building transition strategies into each young person’s case plan that:
    • support their transition from Parkville College into schools, including through the Parkville College Transitions Team and other Department of Education and Training local area and regional supports, including the Youth Justice education pathway coordinator
    • engage them in employment services, including referrals to the Justice Employment Training and Transition Service to develop an individualised training and employment plan for them
    • ensure young people continue to address outstanding offence-related issues in the community by engaging with Youth Offending Programs
    • maintain their connection to supports in the community that build on their strengths, for example, family and positive relationships with friends, or sports, music, arts or other community-based clubs
    • address reintegration needs that have arisen because they have been in custody, for example, ensuring housing is available
    • help them secure personal identification documents that will allow them to engage in school and jobs and assist them to meet the requirements associated with accessing government support after they are released
    • ensure young people in custody participate in community reintegration activities to support their effective transition back into the community.
  • Strengthen the approach to parole planning. This will involve providing additional support to the Youth Parole Board to enable it to continue its important work and robust decision making. This includes providing validated risk assessments, ensuring the views of victims are considered by the Youth Parole Board, and creating comprehensive parole plans.

Delivering strengthened programs and interventions

Youth Justice will deliver stronger, evidence-based and appropriately targeted programs and interventions to young people to address offending behaviour.

Key actions 2020–2024

Youth Justice will:

  • Bring a multidisciplinary and cross-sector approach to address the needs of young people from each region who are at high risk of offending and causing serious harm. Multi-Agency Panels currently operate in different regions of Victoria, which bring together place-specific representatives from schools, Victoria Police and relevant department and agency representatives.
  • Deliver a High Risk Panel to oversee and support the most complex and high-risk young people in custody and the community. The High Risk Panel is chaired by the Commissioner for Youth Justice and includes senior operational and clinical representatives, ensuring robust planning for this group of young people.
  • Work with partners to review and improve the Youth Justice Community Support Service, to support young people to not reoffend, and to connect with family, education, training, employment and the community. This service also involves integrated access and supported referrals to a wide range of services, as well as after-hours support.
  • Expand the youth offender program offering, introducing five offence-specific programs for sentenced young people that are designed to target violent offending, sexual offending, substance–use related offending and motor–vehicle related offending.
  • Deliver cognitive behaviour interventions to help change the way young people think about offending and support them to solve problems and identify different, positive solutions to challenging situations.
  • Establish the Youth Justice Accreditation and Evaluation Panel to oversee the evaluation of all rehabilitative programs in Youth Justice.

Providing an effective and safe Youth Justice custodial system

Young people’s rehabilitation depends on an effective and safe custodial system. This objective is underpinned by a number of ongoing operational reform activities, which have been developed in partnership with key Youth Justice representatives, experts and stakeholders on the Custodial Facilities Working Group.

Key actions 2020–2024

Youth Justice will:

  • Introduce a new system configuration for the Parkville and Malmsbury Youth Justice precincts in the lead up to the opening of the new custodial facility at Cherry Creek. The key pillars of the new system are:
    • the Classification and Placement Unit administering new security rating tools in relation to all young people in custody, which use objective criteria to determine their potential safety and security risks and needs, both when they enter custody and dynamically throughout their stay
    • a single point of entry into the custodial system based at Parkville, enabling consistent assessment, security rating and classification of young people entering the system
    • more sophisticated placement decisions for young people entering custody and throughout their stay in custody, informed by their assessed risks and needs
    • a greater number of placement options within custody that allow for differentiated operating models and communities to meet the different needs and risks of children and young people. These will also allow for targeted interventions and supports, and provide incentives for good behaviour through opportunities to progress to less-restrictive accommodation units.
  • Implement a new operating philosophy for our custodial system. Developed in consultation with staff, young people and key service partners and stakeholders, the operating philosophy establishes the overarching principles, and a new shared vision, for the future operation of our Youth Justice custodial system.
  • Develop and use a new practice framework. The framework helps custodial staff to embed the operating philosophy into their practice, so they are equipped with an evidence-based, practical and accessible way to work together and with young people.
  • Introduce new differentiated operating models to support a new communities in custody approach. These operating models will be context specific, and different communities will have different operating parameters depending on need and risk. Key to this work is a separate operating model for girls and young women to support gender-responsive interventions and their equal access to education, health, recreation and treatment services.
  • Embed and improve a fully structured day as part of the new operating models, centred around education delivered by the Department of Education and Training, and training and programs.
  • Deliver custodial-specific programs as part of the structured day, in addition to the offence-specific programs offered. These programs involve engagement in positive and therapeutic activity such as the Lort Smith Animal Therapy Pilot Program, as well as physical exercise, legal education, skills building and gender and cultural-specific activities.
  • Introduce an Intensive Intervention Unit into the custodial system, to be a therapeutic environment to manage the behaviour of young people who cause harm in custody, and provide intensive intervention to reduce the risk of violent offending.
  • Establish a new social enterprise, STREAT café, at the Parkville precinct. Run in partnership with the Department of Justice and Community Safety, STREAT hospitality social enterprise and Parkville College, the café will deliver hospitality training and employment pathways for young people involved in Youth Justice, providing young people with the skills they need to get sustainable employment. This partnership also reflects the government’s commitment to supporting social enterprises, consistent with the Victorian Social Enterprises Strategy.
  • Expand health and mental health services through the primary health and mental health service in custody to respond to young people’s complex health and mental health needs. This service means that:
    • every young person entering a Youth Justice centre receives a health and mental health screen within 24 hours of entry (within 12 hours for Aboriginal young people), and a comprehensive health and mental health assessment within three days
    • young people have 24-hour access to primary mental health nursing, access to general practitioner services and have mandatory at-risk assessments within two hours of presenting behaviours that indicate a risk of suicide or self-harm
    • culturally relevant supports are provided through an Aboriginal health worker and a health promotion officer.
  • Deliver specialist mental health responses through the Custodial Forensic Youth Mental Health Service. This service consists of a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health clinicians operating on site at our centres five days a week and on call seven days a week. 

Introducing a new Youth Justice facility at Cherry Creek and implementing an interim three-precinct custodial system

International practice and Victoria’s expert reviews of Youth Justice, including the Armytage Ogloff Youth Justice review, advise that custodial settings are more settled, safe and effective when young people are placed in smaller, more rehabilitative and normalised environments that promote security through positive relationships, as opposed to large facilities that are like adult prisons.

To address this, the government has revised the scale and design of the new Cherry Creek Youth Justice facility.

The new 140-bed facility will now be a smaller, more specialised and contemporary facility for the most complex and challenging young people – namely our older teenage males – both on remand and undergoing sentence.

The Parkville and Malmsbury sites will be retained, resulting in a three-precinct approach to accommodate children and young people in custody in Victoria. The three-precinct approach will initially apply on an interim basis pending longer-term demand forecasting and consideration of the optimal configuration to ensure a safe, stable and effective youth justice system.

Key actions 2020–2024

Youth Justice will:

  • Build a new 140-bed Youth Justice facility at Cherry Creek that will include:
    • a dedicated health and mental health facility
    • alcohol and drug treatment capability
    • a purpose-built Intensive Intervention Unit to deliver therapeutic and intensive interventions to support young people presenting with violent behaviours in custody
    • an education and vocational campus on site, to deliver the education and training young people need to transition effectively into the community and lead productive lives.
  • Ensure the new centre is secure and safe for young people, for staff and the Victorian community. The design will deliver on the key safety and security recommendations from a number of reviews undertaken in recent years of existing Youth Justice infrastructure.
  • Design a thoughtful facility that is age appropriate and as ‘normal’ as possible to provide a safe environment for children and young people, visiting families and professionals and community members.
  • Build a facility that provides a culturally safe and appropriate environment for both Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse children and young people, in partnership with relevant communities.
  • Introduce new rooms at Parkville and Malmsbury to trial the new communities in custody approach, to respond to different communities based on their risks and needs, and to meet anticipated demand in the lead up to the opening of the new Cherry Creek facility.
  • Implement an interim three-precinct approach to custodial facilities when the new Cherry Creek Youth Justice facility is built, involving:
    • the new purpose-built Cherry Creek facility for young males aged 15 to 18 years on longer-term remand and undergoing sentence
    • simplifying Parkville Youth Justice Centre so that it is a less complex facility, with separate sub-precincts for girls and young women, young males aged 10 to 14, and young males aged 15 to 18 years on short-term remand. Parkville will continue to be a single point of entry into the custodial system under the interim three-precinct approach
    • making Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre a dedicated precinct for young males aged 15 to 18 serving sentence, and for young people aged 18 and over serving dual-track sentences, and continuing to provide step-down and semi-independent living options for young people transitioning into the community. Over the coming years, Malmsbury will have a dedicated focus on vocational training
  • Expand the new communities in custody approach to all three precincts, once the Cherry Creek Youth Justice facility comes online.

Developing a new legislative framework for Youth Justice

We are developing a new legislative framework for Youth Justice in Victoria. The new framework will be a chance to reset the fundamental principles and foundations for Youth Justice. The framework will assist with reducing reoffending and ensuring community safety through an emphasis on diversion and early intervention, the rehabilitation and positive development of children and young people, supporting restoration of harm done to victims by offending, and promoting system-wide collaboration and cooperation.

Key action 2020–2024

Youth Justice will:

  • Develop a new legislative framework for Youth Justice in Victoria.