Youth justice systems, policies and programs

Key policy directions

The key policy directions in youth justice in Tasmania include:

  • A long term agenda led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which considers a combined sector approach for improving outcomes for all Tasmanian children and young people, that will promote increased collaboration at a whole-of-government level.
  • The adoption of 'problem solving' approaches through the Specialist Youth Magistrates Court, the Bail Support Program and Community Conferences, to reduce the likelihood of re-offending, increase community confidence in the justice system and reduce the number of young people detained.
  • The further development of collaborative case coordination models to bring together all relevant stakeholders from government and non-government organisations to better meet the needs of highly vulnerable and vulnerable children, young people and their families. This approach includes Inter-Agency Support Teams.
  • The progression of amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1997.

Key agencies

Youth justice agency

In Tasmania, Children and Youth Services, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is responsible for providing youth justice services such as:

  • coordinating diversionary community conferencing
  • providing statutory community based supervision of young people on court orders
  • providing support for court processes
  • providing safe and secure custodial services and pre- and post-release support
  • providing integrated case management of young people on legal orders
  • managing the community service order program.


Police (within the Department of Police and Emergency Management) are the first point of contact for young people entering the criminal justice system, and are responsible for:

  • dealing with reported youth crime and deciding whether to divert or to prosecute matters in the courts
  • providing diversionary pre-court and informal and formal cautioning services
  • referring a young person to Children and Youth Services for a non-court-based community conference
  • providing an integrated, collaborative approach to identifying appropriate support pathways for individuals and their families through the  Interagency Support Teams.


In Tasmania, young people alleged to have committed an offence who are not diverted are dealt with by the Magistrates Court (Youth Justice Division) through a Specialist Youth Magistrate, under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act. The Supreme Court may hear offences prescribed under the Act.

The Specialist Youth Magistrate assists the court to improve timeliness to finalisation, consistency in court decisions, coordination of youth justice services to the court and collaboration between relevant agencies.

Key elements, programs and services


The Youth Justice Act provides a comprehensive framework for restorative justice, including the restoration or reparation of harm done in the community. Under the Act, diversion from the criminal justice system is the principal outcome sought for all young people who are placed on legal supervision orders and case managed. Detention is considered a sentencing option of last resort.

There are two primary levels of non-court-based diversion in Tasmania:

  • police have the power to informally or formally caution young people who have admitted to committing an offence
  • if the matter is considered more serious, police may request Children and Youth Services to conduct a community conference, which is convened by a facilitator.

A formal caution or a community conference can bring young people face-to-face with their victims to decide how best to rectify the harm caused by their offending.

Case management

Case management in Community Youth Justice identifies:

  • the requirements of the court order and strategies to fulfil these
  • the services and strategies required to address needs as determined by the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI or LS/CMI) risk assessment tools and general assessment process, including other professional assessments as required
  • the relevant people and services to help identify strategies and goals
  • the level of agreement among those involved, including the young person and Community and/or Custodial Youth Justice, on the goals and strategies to achieve these goals, and the associated level of commitment
  • the process of assessing and monitoring progress, and the point at which involvement with the young person will diminish.

The case management approach in place at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYDC) takes account of the needs of the individual young person and any court-ordered obligations, as well as community expectations. A comprehensive assessment process undertaken upon admission informs this approach and continues throughout the period of detention.

Offence-specific and therapeutic programs

Targeted Youth Support Service

The Targeted Youth Support Service (TYSS) is a community-based program funded by Children and Youth Services to provide intensive case management and therapeutic interventions for young people aged 10-17 and their families. The target group are young people with substantial or multiple-risk issues who, without intensive support, would be at risk of notification to child protection or entry into, or escalation with, the youth justice system.

Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART)

CHART is an offending behaviour program that addresses the offending needs of high risk young people on supervised orders. The program uses active, participatory learning methods and employs a skills-oriented, cognitive-behavioural approach to casework with young offenders.

Juvenile Fire Lighting Intervention Program

The Juvenile Fire Lighting Intervention Program (JFLIP) is a state-wide behaviour change program designed for children aged 4-14 who engage in unsafe fire-setting. It is a family-based program delivered in the home by trained JFLIP fire-fighters. JFLIP practitioners also participate in community conferences and formal cautions for young people who have committed fire-related offences.

Rehabilitative programs at the AYDC

All young people at the AYDC participate in a range of rehabilitative programs. The programs offered and techniques applied take place within a case management context, are evidence based and focus on offender rehabilitation. The program framework is designed to provide cognitive-based therapeutic programs for persistent and serious offenders and address specific criminogenic and social needs. Basic interventions that address issues that may affect community integration, such as employment, education, accommodation and leisure, are also included.

Transition from Ashley Youth Detention Centre

This program works with young people aged 10-18 who are in detention and/or remand in AYDC, assisting them to reintegrate back into the community in the southern region of Tasmania. Youth Workers support young people both in AYDC and when they transition back into the community. Save the Children work in partnership with AYDC, Ashley School, Youth Justice, PCYC, and EdZone, and the Department of Education to support young people to identify and meet their recreational, educational and vocational and/or employment goals and aspirations.

Supporting Young People on Bail

Save the Children works in partnership with Youth Justice, Children's Court Magistrate, Early Intervention Units, Tasmania Police and other community agencies to support children and young people aged 10-17 who have been placed on bail. Youth Workers work with young people to identify their recreational, educational and vocational/employment goals and aspirations. These goals form the young person's Bail Support Plan. Support is provided to the young person during their bail period to help them meet their goals.


The Department of Education operates a school on site at the AYDC for young people of compulsory and non-compulsory school age. The educational focus for detainees reflects the curriculum used in schools and training facilities in the community.

Programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people

Youth Justice has a number of partnerships with Indigenous organisations, including:

  • the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (TAC), which has supervised a number of young people on community service orders and involved them in health and wellbeing programs, as well as tasks such as land care
  • the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation, which provides preparation for work programs and linkages to employment for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Youth Justice clients
  • the Tasmanian Aboriginal Child Care Association, which has provided placements for a number of young people on community service orders in general maintenance tasks
  • the Meenah Mienne (My Dream), which is a government-assisted Tasmanian Aboriginal arts community organisation that provides art and mentoring programs.

Supported accommodation and bail programs

Amendments to the Youth Justice Act will provide increased guidance to bail decision-makers. In the south of the state, a pilot bail program run and funded by Save the Children began in 2011.

Pre- and post-release support

The Department of Education operates a school on site at the AYDC for young people of compulsory and non-compulsory school age. The educational focus for detainees reflects the curriculum used in schools and training facilities in the community.

Other programs and services

Gateway Services is the single entry point to all family and disability services in each area of the state. The Family Support Services system provides an integrated continuum of services. This includes information and support, early and safety net interventions and targeted tertiary services for hard-to-engage families with high needs, and the provision of safe community living options for children where living with their birth parents is not possible.