Helping young offenders build a brighter future
CatholicCare Victoria provides a range of programs to support young people who have offended, who are in youth custodial centres, and who are exiting custody.
Our Youth Justice Group Conferencing, Youth Justice Chaplaincy and Youth Justice Community Support programs help young people to turn their life around, and minimise their progression into the adult criminal justice system.
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Youth Justice Group Conferencing
Youth Justice Group Conferencing is a case conferencing program for young people who have been found guilty or have pleaded guilty to an offence in the Children’s Court.
Group conferencing is a problem-solving approach to youth offending, encouraging dialogue between young people who have offended and their victims. This provides an opportunity for the young offender to realise the impact of the offence on the victim, their family and the community.
The group conference process involves a range of people including:
- the convenor
- the young offender
- the young offender’s legal representative
- a police officer
- the victim and their chosen supports
- supports for the young offender and professionals from the community such as a school welfare officer, a sports coach or employer
While group conferencing can be a confronting experience for all involved, a group conference provides a safe, structured environment for all people affected by the offence to come together to:
- talk about what happened
- discuss how they were affected
- decide how to make things better
Victim participation in a group conference is voluntary. Victims are encouraged to be supported by a family member, friend or a Victims Support Agency.
What are the outcomes of Youth Justice Group Conferencing?
An outcome plan is written summarising the agreement and what actions will be taken to remedy the offence. The convenor will then provide the Magistrate with a court report on the conference for consideration prior to sentencing.
The young person, their legal representative and the Convenor then return to Court. If the Court accepts the outcome plan, a key support person monitors the plan and supports the young person to achieve the goals.
How do I access this service?
This service is offered within the Grampians and Loddon Mallee regions. Referrals to Youth Justice Group Conferencing are made via the Children’s Court of Victoria.
If a Magistrate is considering Group Conferencing as a sentencing option for a young person, they will stand the matter down for the Convenor and Department of Health and Human Services Youth Justice to conduct a thorough assessment.
For further information about the Youth Justice Group Conferencing program please call our Ballarat Family Relationship Centre on (03) 5327 7900 or our Bendigo office on (03) 5438 1300.
Youth Justice Chaplaincy
Youth Justice Chaplaincy provides pastoral support to young people within Victoria’s two youth justice precincts at Parkville and Malmsbury.
Our Chaplains can help young people in custodial centres to feel less alone; to show them that they are worthy of support and care; to give them hope for a better, brighter future; and to empower them to lead a positive and fulfilling life.
Chaplains offer a range of supports including:
- Having someone there to listen or sit silently with them
- Having someone to pray with them and/or provide them with religious reading material
- Providing a church service on weekends
- Helping them to adjust to new surroundings
- Helping them to explore and/or reconcile their spirituality
- Helping them through loss and grief
- Helping them to prepare for parole
Youth Justice Chaplains also play a role in advocating for the dignity of young people, within the youth justice system and across the broader community.
They work as part of an interfaith network, working alongside chaplains from many other faith groups. Our Youth Justice Chaplains can support young people in custody regardless of their spiritual or religious belief or background.
How do I access this service?
Young people within the justice precincts at Parkville and Malmsbury can access our Youth Justice Chaplaincy. For more information on this service please contact the Pastoral Services team at our East Melbourne office on (03) 9287 5555.
Youth Justice Community Support
Youth Justice Community Support provides intensive support for young people exiting custody or who are on community-based orders that require post-release support.
The service recognises that these young people present with a range of complex and varied needs requiring individual service responses.
The Youth Justice Community Support program involves an integrated approach for providing support and services to young people that complements the statutory case management undertaken by Youth Justice Units.
The intensive support model aims to assist young people by:
- reducing the severity, frequency and rates of re-offending; and minimising progression into the criminal justice system
- servicing young people in their local community and facilitating their transition from the Youth Justice service system to their local community service system
- preparing young people for adulthood by developing their independence, resilience and social connectedness to family and community
- providing referrals to additional support services and programs to assist young people to build their capacity to live independently and re-engage with the community
We also aim to develop young people’s capacity for meaningful educational and economic participation as part of this program.
How do I access this service?
This service is offered within the Grampians region. Referrals into the Youth Justice Community Support program are initiated by the regional Youth Justice worker during the case planning process and upon exiting a custodial facility, as part of the parole planning process.
All referrals to this program must be endorsed by the relevant regional Youth Justice Manager before proceeding. If you would like to speak with one of our Support Workers about this program, please call our Ballarat Family Relationship Centre on (03) 5327 7900.
There is no charge to access these services.
Youth Justice Community Support and Youth Justice Group Conferencing are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (Victorian State Government).
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Our Youth Justice programs are run from the following locations.
To enquire about these services, please contact the relevant office:
Ballarat FRC: Youth Justice Group Conferencing & Youth Justice Community Support
Bendigo: Youth Justice Group Conferencing
East Melbourne: Youth Justice Chaplaincy
Ballarat FRCBendigoEast Melbourne
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