Youth Justice workers: Helping young Australians to get back on track

Australia’s youth justice system, following international standards, is based on two principles:

  1. Young people should be detained only as a last resort
  2. Detainment should be for the shortest appropriate period

Youth Justice workers are the women and men who help those young people to access support services, understand how their actions affect others, and work on the underlying personal issues that led them to commit an offence.

What does a Youth Justice worker do?

Young people (aged 10-17) who come into contact with the justice system have complex, often challenging needs. Every case is unique, and some may be confronting.

Most Youth Justice workers start out, like you, with a keen interest in helping young people. They may move immediately into Youth Justice after earning a Diploma of Youth Work, or first, choose to explore the many pathways of youth work.

Custodial facilities

There are around 980 young Australians in detention facilities on any given night. Youth Justice Officers in these facilities help young people make positive lifestyle changes and transition back into the community. Day-to-day, this looks like:

  • Maintaining a secure environment for young people and staff
  • Supporting young offenders with development and rehabilitation programs
  • Helping young people to access referral services and contact their families
  • Security checks and supervision

Community programs

More than 80% of the young people under supervision are not in custodial facilities. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of active community programs around Australia staffed by hands-on youth workers:

  • Bail monitoring programs which provide stringent supervision
  • Diverting at-risk young people away from the justice system
  • Case Managers checking in on previous offenders
  • Support groups for offenders and families, and other community centre programs
  • Early intervention programs

Like all areas of youth work, Youth Justice workers guide young people to personal improvement with an understanding that the reasons for committing a crime are often deeply personal, as well as situational.

Who is suitable for youth work?

There may be no career path more personally rewarding than youth work. Excelling in Youth Justice, or any youth work role, requires a unique mix of traits and skills:

  • Clear, trustworthy communicator
  • Non-judgemental
  • Resilience
  • Willing to take initiative
  • Good at resolving conflict
  • Strong interpersonal skills

Many career paths lead from a Diploma or Certificate course to upper-level management in a private or not-for-profit program or state-run custodial facility.

If this sounds like you, then we invite you to learn more about our nationally recognised courses that can lead to a gratifying, challenging and diverse career as a Youth Justice worker. Explore our Diploma of Youth Work and Certificate courses in more detail online, or request course information from TrainSmart Australia.

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