Elle Jackson shares what an effective youth justice system looks like for Victoria
Victorians will vote in a state election on Saturday. Every election is important, and this one comes as many Victorians continue to experience hardship and disadvantage. The current government has enacted a range of important reforms that work towards reducing inequality – like stronger support for kids leaving out-of-home care, and a new youth justice framework that will give young people the support they need to turn their lives around – but there’s more to be done. For 45 years, Jesuit Social Services, the organisation Worth A Second Chance, has delivered services and advocated to drive positive social change in Victoria. This election is no different. We recently released our election platform, which is a blueprint for a social change agenda for Victoria, offering recommendations for reform across a range of interconnected social policy areas, including youth justice. Today, Jesuit Social Services Policy Manager – Victoria, Elle Jackson, shares what a fair, effective and humane youth justice system for Victoria involves, how our next government could get us there, and the positive impact this reform would have on the lives of young people in trouble, their families, and our whole community. Notes for this episode Jesuit Social Services’ Victorian state election platform Our Youth Our Way report
November 25, 2022
Pat Ansell Dodds tells the “bigger picture” of youth crime in Northern Australia
The recent fatal beating of a young Aboriginal boy in Perth has shone a light on a range of issues impacting Aboriginal youth in the community. Sadly, it’s something that happens everywhere, including on the streets of Mparntwe, or Alice Springs, where we’re calling into today. Northern Australia is no stranger to headlines about youth crime rates. The Northern Territory has the highest rate of youth imprisonment in the country. It locks up kids at a rate of about five times the national average, and over the last year we have data for, the number of kids in detention rose by seventy-eight per cent in twelve months. But kids in the Territory aren’t acting out five times more frequently than kids elsewhere. Today, we speak with Arrernte and Amjatere elder Pat Ansell Dodds about the bigger picture of youth crime in the Northern Territory – and the role country, culture and respect play in keeping kids out of trouble.
November 09, 2022
Treat kids in detention like kids, not criminals, says award-winning researcher Sanne Oostermeijer
Most of us know what a prison typically looks like. Cells, bars, locks, barbed wire, high fences – generally pretty harsh places. But picture this instead. Not hundreds of beds but just eight, for the whole facility. Located in the neighbourhood, not hundreds of kilometres out of the way. An environment that feels more like a home than a jail; semi-open, not locked up, and where staff and residents have dynamic and respectful relationships. It’s not a pipedream – it’s the idea that won Dr Sanne Oostermeijer and architect Matthew Dwyer the $30,000 Melbourne Design Challenge in 2018. Sanne and Matthew’s idea outlined best practices for the design of youth justice facilities, which can support young people onto a better path after time in detention. On today’s episode, Sanne shares how good design can lead to better outcomes and safer communities. Here are the links we mention in this episode: Sanne and Matthew’s award-winning design guidelines Jesuit Social Services’ Justice Solutions tour reports – US and Europe, New Zealand Note This is an edited and reworked version of a conversation Sanne had with Jess Sanders for our Community Check-in video series in 2021. We’ve re-recorded the questions with this season’s podcast host for consistency across all episodes.
October 28, 2022
How ex-cop Dean McGowan "fell through the cracks", reset his life, and served 33 years with compassion and care
Victoria Police process around seven thousand young people every year. If you were an officer, you’d meet them every day – from the kids pinching chocolate from the shops and skateboarding without their helmets, to the less common and more serious behaviour, like breaking into cars. How many warnings and lectures could you give before you started wondering if anyone was really listening? Dean McGowan recently finished up after thirty-three years with Victoria Police. He’s investigated some of the most complex and distressing crimes you can imagine – but he’s not quite ready to lock up young people who offend and throw away the key. Dean’s had first-hand experience of needing help from teachers and family to keep his life on track. Experience that has shaped the person he is and the way he does his work. On today’s episode, he talks about how police can move young people away from the justice system, while still holding them responsible for their actions, about the consequences of impulsivity and bad decisions, and tells his own story, of a wayward youth turned around.
October 04, 2022
Dave Hammond wants a youth justice system grounded in connection and restitution, not hatred and blame
Imagine you’re a kind-hearted community development worker, who believes young people are worthy, and need support, not punishment, when they do the wrong thing – and then one night, one of those kids breaks into your house. That happened to Dave Hammond. He’s worked for many years in homelessness and community services, including previously leading Jesuit Social Services’ work in western Sydney. A 14-year-old boy was one member of a group who broke into Dave and his wife Sal’s house a few years ago. Dave and Sal could have asked for the kid to be thrown in jail – but instead they took a closer look at what was going on in his life. Today, Dave tells that story – and much more, about the choices and moments that make us who we are.
September 26, 2022
Researcher Rob Bonnet’s “ripple effect” theory for reducing crime without using prisons
When a young person commits a crime, some people might call for them to be sent to jail. A place to punish them, to keep the community safe, and to deter others from doing the same thing. But the evidence tells us prisons aren’t effective at stopping crime. Eighty per cent of young people in Victoria will reoffend within a year of leaving detention, and the experience of being isolated in a harsh prison environment doesn’t help someone get on a better path. Now, new research shows that an approach called group conferencing is nearly twice as effective in reducing reoffending – without sending kids to prison. Today, researcher Rob Bonnet tells us why. Rob’s PhD research evaluated the effectiveness of the Victorian Government’s Youth Justice Group Conferencing program – the program brings together people who have offended with the victims of their actions in dialogue, to restore relationships, heal harm, and change behaviour. Here's what Rob found, why it works, and what this research could mean for youth justice in Victoria.
September 07, 2022
Kane Apelu celebrates resilience, ingenuity and second chances for un-housed youth in the justice system
Research tells us there’s a clear link between youth homelessness and involvement with the criminal justice system. Young people who are un-homed are more likely to engage in what’s called ‘survival crimes’, like stealing, to meet their needs, and are more likely to be seen and caught by police while they’re doing it. And people already in the justice system are more likely to be homeless as they come out, because of the challenges they face in finding work and accommodation with a criminal record. It’s tough. But it means if you can connect a young person with a home, you might be able to interrupt that cycle – and start to address the root causes of their offending behaviour, helping them leave crime behind. Today, hear from Kane Apelu on the Worth A Second Chance podcast. Kane manages Jesuit Social Services’ housing programs, and told us more about the link between being un-housed and getting caught up in the justice system – and the compassion, respect and support that make a real difference to young people’s lives.
August 28, 2022
Liana Buchanan is asking our leaders to "do better" for youth in detention in Victoria
Laws and policies are created by our leaders. But in a democracy, like Australia, everyday people can influence the decisions they make. And in the youth justice system, that’s really important. If we care about the children in detention and about how they’re supported to understand the impact of their actions and make changes in their lives, then we need to let our government know. Liana Buchanan returns in today's episode of the Worth A Second Chance podcast. She's the principal commissioner at the Commission for Children and Young People in Victoria, which is the state's independent advocate for the safety and wellbeing of young people. Liana tells us about the realistic and effective criminal justice reform that could happen in Victoria to improve the system, and the important role our whole community plays in ensuring those troubled young people are safe, supported and accountable. Here are the links we mention in this episode Our Youth, Our Way report – Commission for Children and Young People Care Not Custody report – Victoria Legal Aid Raise the Age petition Annual report 2020-21 – Youth Parole Board of Victoria
August 10, 2022
Jes Wikaira is "not your average support worker" for culturally diverse kids in Victoria's justice system
A Maori or Pasifika young person in Victoria’s criminal justice system might come across Jes Wikaira. She’s a cultural and intensive support worker on a program called the Youth Justice Community Support Service, which helps young people reset their lives and connect with the support they need after being in contact with the law. Jes works with and advocates for young people who come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. That’s important, because they make up around forty per cent of the people in Victoria’s justice system – a disproportionate rate, which is due to complex and overlapping factors, including the continuing impacts of colonisation, entrenched disadvantage, and disconnection from vital support. Here, Jes talks about the culturally safe support she provides to a whole family – not just an individual, in recognition of how Maori families like her own are comprised and understood – and the misconceptions about the people she works alongside that she’d like the wider community to extinguish, to make everyone feel more safe and welcome. Join our campaign for a more fair, humane and effective youth justice system at worthasecondchance.com.au, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to hear new conversations every second Wednesday.
July 28, 2022
Liana Buchanan's office is the "eyes and ears" scrutinising Victoria's youth justice system
On an average night in Australia, there's around 800 young people locked up in youth detention. But what do we know from there? What are the conditions like inside those facilities? What support do young people get to turn their lives around? And who makes sure everything's running as it should be? To answer those questions, meet Liana Buchanan. She's the principal commissioner at the Commission for Children and Young People in Victoria, which is the state's independent advocate for the safety and wellbeing of young people. Here, she talks about the experiences of young people who find themselves in detention; about her team of volunteers who go inside prisons every month to scrutinise what's happening; about how misleading media stories labelling kids 'young thugs' can change the way people are treated in the justice system – but also about the positive policy progress we've made in Victoria that she's keen to protect. Join our campaign for a more fair, humane and effective youth justice system at worthasecondchance.com.au, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to hear new conversations every second Wednesday.
July 13, 2022
#WorthASecondChance Community Check-in: What is Restorative Justice & Group Conferencing?
Have you heard the term 'restorative justice' but don't know exactly what it is? Have you ever wondered what is involved in a youth justice group conference? Either way this is the podcast for you. Re-visit our Community Check-in with Genevieve Higgins, Manager of Community Justice Programs, who shares with us the values and processes that underpin this holistic and therapeutic approach to justice. Towards the end of this check-in Genevieve shares with us a moving group conferencing story that has really stayed with her.
May 19, 2021
#WorthASecondChance Community Check-in: Raising the Age of Legal Responsibility in the NT.
Elle Jackson, Manager of Justice Programs in the NT shares with us her insights into youth justice in the NT and expands on why raising the age of legal responsibility will change the lives of young people all over Australia.
April 28, 2021
Episode 3 - Luke Anderson, public speaker, social entrepreneur and electrical contractor.
Luke Anderson is a Public speaker, social entrepreneur and electrical contractor. Luke has lived experience with the justice system and in this podcast he generously shares his life’s story with us. You can get in touch with Luke by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
February 17, 2021
Episode 2 - Vincent Schiraldi, justice reform expert.
Vincent Schiraldi co-founded the Justice Lab at Columbia University. The Justice Lab is devoted to reducing society’s reliance the criminal justice system as a solution to social problems through research; education; and convening scholars, practitioners, policy makers, advocates and formerly incarcerated people. Projects include eliminating youth prisons, reducing the footprint and negative impact of community corrections, and creating a developmentally appropriate response to offending by young adults. In this candid conversation Vinny shares with us the story of how he came to work in justice reform and what it is that drives him to do the work he does. We hope you enjoy this chat with Vincent Schiraldi. You can find Vincent on LinkedIn here. And read some of his work here.
February 04, 2021
Episode 1 - Bernie Shakeshaft of Back Track Youth Works.
Bernie Shakeshaft is the founder and CEO of BackTrack YouthWorks in Armidale NSW. He has spent the past 25 years living out his passion, working with dogs and supporting kids at risk. In 2006 with his children growing up and forging their own paths in life, he was determined to turn his vision of working with the most disadvantaged young people in our communities into a reality. To keep them alive, out of jail, and chasing their hopes and dreams. Under Bernie’s leadership, BackTrack has forged a new beginning for over a 1000 young people. In 2018 Bernie starred in a popular documentary, Back Track Boys, the film followed his work and the remarkable influence he has on a group of young people. In 2020 Bernie was awarded the Australian of the Year Local Hero award. You can watch the Back Track Boys Film here. You can get into contact with Back Track Youth Works here. Follow Worth A Second Chance on social media. Instagram - @wortha2ndchance Twitter - @wortha2ndchance Facebook - @wortha2ndchance Learn more about the Worth A Second Chance campaign here.
January 18, 2021