Safe homes and communities
The Youth @ Risk Taskforce is working to improve outcomes for children and young people at risk of entering the justice system. This work is driven by evidence that demonstrates early intervention can maintain young people’s connection with education and support better outcomes.
The IGYAP used data from the local Child FIRST agency, DET, DHHS, DJR and VicPol to understand the experiences of young people at risk and how their families have interacted with the service system. A deep dive into the experiences of five children (from birth to ages 10-14) and four families showed that each had significant contact with the service system. Key findings included:
- Education: all children did not make a successful transition from primary to secondary school, with all exiting before end of Year 7, many of the absences from school in primary and secondary school correlated with incidents of family violence
- Family services: school attendance increased and reported Family Violence was significantly reduced when family services were involved with the family
- Child Protection: all children had multiple reports to child protection (total reports equated to one report every six months of a child’s life), and all had contact with Child Protection in within the first year of their life
- Family Violence: high numbers of family violence incidents reported to VicPol, with many of the children’s offending occurring close to a family violence incident
- Parental offending: all children’s parents had been subject to a Correctional Order with Department of Justice and Regulation.
The findings from this data analysis have driven the development of three local strategies:
- Reboot: focused on developing targeted responses for up to 30 children aged 10-14 years who are at risk of entering the justice system
- Dads Do Matter: an eight-week parenting program targeting 32 men on community correctional orders who are fathers of children aged 0-10
- Wonthaggi Multi-Agency response: a coordinated and targeted referral process for young people.
The Youth @ Risk work draws on the research from Collaborative Research Initiative that the IGCYAP has with Federation University Australia. PhD candidate Kay Lancefield will identify key factors relating to youth contact with the criminal justice system and explore if identifying, engaging and supporting young people early reduces offending. This research will contribute to the development of an evidence-based response to early intervention with young people in Inner Gippsland.
Impacts for children and young people
As of July 2018, 20 young people have already been provided wrap-around support services through the Reboot strategy and their participation in school has increased.
The impacts that are expected from this work are epitomised in one 12 year old boy, ‘Harry’ who was referred to Reboot in December 2017 after entering kinship care. Through the Reboot program, Harry, his Grandmother, his care team, his mentor and the school advisers meet fortnightly to work on positive strategies at home and school. Since participation in Reboot, Harry’s participation in school has increased and he has not presented with further challenging behaviours.
The first Dads Do Matter program ran from April – June 2018 through Anglicare. The men who participated reported increased ability to interact with their children and liked the opportunity to discuss their own childhoods, what they want from themselves and their goals for their children’s upbringing.
Dads Do Matter is based on Anglicare’s Parents Building Solutions program which has been accredited by the Australian Institute of Family Studies as a “Promising Program” under the Communities for Children Evidence-Based Program framework.
Reboot and Dads Do Matter are funded by the Department of Justice and Regulation, Department of Health and Human Services.
In September 2015, the Inner Gippsland Children and Youth Area Partnership held the Innovation Bootcamp that focused on co-designing a better care system for children and young people in the area.
One of the key messages from the Innovation Bootcamp was that children and young people are not engaged in key decisions about their lives.
Following the Innovation Bootcamp, young people in out-of-home care, Anglicare Victoria, Berry Street, Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault and Child Protection co-designed the My Views booklet - a tool to ensure children's and young people’s voice is heard in care planning. This tool built on existing resources, and is now being used by all children and young people in out-of-home care in Inner Gippsland.
The purpose of the My Views booklet is to ensure:
- the voice of children and young people is heard in meeting planning for their care
- families, carers and workers involved in a child's life will know the child's views
- children and young people's views are used to inform decisions
- children and young people are advised of the decisions made.
Use of the My Views booklet is making a difference in the lives of children and young people in out-of-home care, including:
- young people in out-of-home care have felt like they have been heard for the first time
- safety concerns and risks that were not known have been uncovered
- identified areas were children and young people in out-of-home care need support
- making the voice of the child or young person central to the plan and changing the direction of the case planning
- supporting the child's voice in court
- providing a way for children to write down what they felt they would not be able to say.
Following the initial pilot, a state-wide roll-out of the My Views booklet will commence across all Child Protection divisions with a clear purpose of ascertaining a child's view within case planning.