…the best criminal justice policies include good welfare, social work, child protection and the use of discretion and diversion where possible.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For a variety of reasons, young people living in residential care services are at increased risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system.
A partnership between the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), NGO service providers and the NSW Police, The Joint Protocol to reduce the contact of young people in residential out-of-home-care with the criminal justice system is currently in place across all residential out-of-home care, Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) and Interim Care Model (ICM) providers across NSW.
The Joint Protocol aims to:
- Reduce the frequency of police involvement in responding to behaviour by young people living in residential, ITC and ICM services, which would be better managed solely within the service. This includes taking action that causes the least harm for young people by not relying on emergency services, i.e. ambulances, for behaviour management.
- Promote the principle that criminal charges will not be pursued against a young person if there is an alternative and appropriate means of dealing with the matter.
- Promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of young people living in residential ITC and ICM services, by improving relationships, communication and information sharing both at a corporate level and between local police and residential services.
- Facilitate a shared commitment by police and residential ITC and ICM services to a collaborative early intervention approach.
- Enhance police efforts to divert young people from the criminal justice system by improving the information residential ITC and ICM services provide police about the circumstances of the young person to inform the exercise of their discretion.
- Ensure that appropriate responses are provided to young people living in residential ITC and ICM services who are victims.
The Protocol recognises that a multi-agency commitment is necessary to divert young people in residential ITC and ICM services from unnecessary contact with the criminal justice system. To that end, the Protocol is underpinned by interagency collaboration between Police, NGO service providers and DCJ.
All young people have the right to feel safe, protected and connected to community, family, culture and country.
This is particularly important for young people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. The Joint Protocol calls for genuine partnerships with local cultural communities, cultural groups and organisations to meet the needs of young people. Parties to the Joint Protocol are consciously focused on the rights and interests of young people and being culturally sensitive and relevant in their responses and in providing care.
Parties to the Joint Protocol recognise the importance of shared responsibility and collaboration to care for and support young people living in residential care settings. A collaborative local response is an effective way to support young people to recover from trauma and achieve their best life outcomes. This includes recognising a shared role in preventing unnecessary exposure to emergency services and the criminal justice system.
This short video presented by Daniel Barakate from the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) describes how the Joint Protocol works within the Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) and the Interim Care Model (ICM) systems to reduce the criminalisation of vulnerable young people. It briefly discusses the reform of residential care in NSW and the increased therapeutic and trauma informed response to care. It discusses how services providing care in ITC and ICM can apply the Joint Protocol to their everyday work by building strong, collaborative and purposeful local relationships.