Pathways into youth justice: Strengthening policy and program supports for young people in the youth justice system who are transitioning from out-of-home care

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Local and international research suggests an overrepresentation of young people leaving state out-of-home care in the youth justice system. A range of factors appear to contribute to this correlation including child abuse and neglect, placement instability, experiences of residential care, and unsupported transitions from care. This article presents the findings of a Victorian pilot study conducted in partnership with Whitelion, a not-for-profit organisation specifically offering support to ‘young people involved with or at risk of involvement with the youth justice and/or out-of-home care and leaving care services’ (Whitelion, 2012), to examine the interrelationship between the child protection and youth justice systems, and particularly to explore the processes that take place when young people involved in the youth justice system leave state care. A series of interviews and focus groups with Whitelion workers were used to explore whether leaving care plans and policies address and minimise involvement with youth justice; the role, if any, of formal consultations by child protection services with youth justice regarding this group of care leavers; and the ongoing role of youth justice postcare, particularly when young people are in custody at the time of their exit from care. Some significant implications for policy and practice are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-22
Number of pages13
JournalChildren Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Inter-agency collaboration
  • Leaving care
  • Prevention
  • Youth justice

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