Development of a Youth Justice Disability Action Plan - Improving outcomes for young people with a disability involved with Youth Justice

Directorate: Strategy & Engagement

Division: Youth Justice

Project summary

The development of a Youth Justice Disability Action Plan aims to address the over-representation of young people with a disability in the criminal justice system and improve outcomes for young people with a disability and their families. It develops and promotes a more flexible model of service delivery which provides early NDIS referral and implements timely and targeted supports.

Focus Area: 

  • Improving access to mainstream services through better systems and processes.

Project objective

The project seeks to:

  • examine the current ways in which other criminal justice jurisdictions work with young people with disabilities
  • develop a Disability Action Plan using the Disability Issues Paper, staff consultation, data analysis and literature review
  • document the current Youth Justice initiatives, formal and informal, that work effectively with young people with disabilities
  • provide advice on future actions required relating to service delivery, programming and training to improve service provision to young people with disabilities

The challenge

Young people with disabilities are considerably over-represented and have earlier and more frequent contact with the criminal justice system.

Often these disabilities have been previously undetected, undiagnosed or inconsistently reported.  Processes required to gain a diagnosis and refer to appropriate supports are complex and difficult to navigate.

Young people with disabilities have more complex crininogenic needs, with behaviours often interpreted and responded to through a criminogenic rather than functional framework.

This project aims to streamline inconsistencies in diagnosis, NDIS referral and implementation of necessary supports, so that best outcomes can be achieved for each young person.

Why is this important?

The benefits of this project include having an agreed direction for Youth Justice to improve services to young people with disability:

  • through diversion and early intervention
  • by equipping them to reach their full potential through targeted supports and accessible interventions
  • by reducing barriers to appropriate assessment and diagnosis, accessing NDIS, advocacy services and other supports
  • by upskilling staff.

What will success look like?

With the development of the Disability Action Plan, Youth Justice will have a clear direction to improve it's service to young people with a disability. At the end of implementation of the Plan Youth Justice will be a more youth-centric service which listens to the individual needs of each young person with a disability and their family, and will respond in a culturally sensitive, therapeutically targeted manner to ensure best outcomes for each young person.

Youth Justice will have implemented routine screening of all young people involved with Youth Justice to ensure timely identification, diagnosis and referral. Youth Justice staff will also be more skilled to recognise and correctly progress any presenting disability issues, and provide ongoing referral, support and advocacy for each young person with disability.

Using accessible resources, interventions and programs which meet the individual needs of each young person, Youth Justice will provide a more equitable service to young people with a disability and their families. Data collection will also be streamlined to identify and respond to young people with a disability more efficiently and effectively.

How will you measure success?

Youth Justice will include a monitoring framework as part of the Disability Action Plan implementation to monitor changes in outcomes and service delivery satisfaction for young people with a disability in contact with Youth Justice.

Summary of key stages

Key Actions


Due date


Establish YJ Disability working group


June 2019


Invite & collate feedback on Disability Issues Paper

feedback provided and collated

1 July 2020


Invite & collate feedback from YJ staff including psychologists, case workers, assistant managers, area managers, custodial case workers, AM client services

feedback provided and collated

30 July 2020


Draft the Disability Action Plan


20 October 2020


Workshop the disability action plan internal stakeholders

Workshop completed

18 Nov 2020


Invite feedback of draft action plan from external stakeholders

Updated draft DAP

20 December 2020


Submit action plan to ELT for endorsement

ELT brief and final DAP

February 2021

not started

Distribute action plan to YJ for implementation


March 2021

not started

Status report

Current Status: Progressing

Date: 19/11/2020

Status Notes:

Status Explanatory Note:

Status reports provided:

Last updated:

24 Nov 2021

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Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

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