Positive Youth’s programs and services are rooted in positive youth development theory and practice and are intentionally restorative. Positive youth development represents an affirmative and welcome vision of young people, as opposed to an older vision of young people that tends to concentrate on problems and deficits. Positive youth development programs and services are universal, strengths-based and structured, and link process and environment to outcomes. Relationships, challenging activities and community are also common features of programs and services based on positive youth development theory and practice. Ultimately, Positive youth development is focussed on how things go right, not on how things go wrong. Therefore, it should be distinguished from other approaches that emphasise pathology-reduction, such as those labelled as “prevention”.
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
Focusing on how things go right is about taking action to promote positive youth development, including designing and implementing programs and services that instil in young people attributes such as compassion, competence, character, connection, and confidence. Positive Youth seeks to design and implement programs and services that provide an opportunity for young people to engage in activities that acknowledge their inherent capacity to grow and thrive, and that are designed to help them discover their strengths and build new skills in the context of positive adult relationships. Positive Youth also seeks to design and implement programs and services that provide opportunities for young people to learn how to leverage their strengths in prosocial ways, thus contributing to the reduction of high-risk behaviours.
Restorative Justice Mentoring Initiative
The ACT Government’s Restorative Justice (RJ) Scheme is voluntary and victim-focused. It provides an opportunity for eligible and suitable victims, offenders and their communities of care to meet in a non-adversarial setting as a way of promoting understanding, empathy and reparation for victims of crime. Offenders get the opportunity to explain their actions, reflect on their behaviour, respond to victims’ needs and actively make amends. Sometimes RJ Agreements setting out tasks agreed to be performed by offenders are signed by the parties.
According to the Justice and Community Safety Directorate (JACS), a total of 153 adults and 141 young offenders were referred to RJ in 2018-19 – most by ACT Policing and the ACT Magistrate’s Court, and most for less serious offences. RJ found 78 matters eligible and suitable to proceed to conference in 2018-19, resulting in 97 RJ Agreements. An impact evaluation of the RJ Scheme reported in July 2018 that the majority (93%) of victims, offenders and their communities of care were satisfied with the conference process and outcome of the conference. The impact evaluation also reported a positive reduction in the risk of recidivism for RJ participants.
Building on the conclusion that RJ seems to be a useful response to offending behaviour, and one way of diverting young offenders in particular from deeper involvement in the youth justice and criminal justice systems, the initiative proposes to offer targeted mentoring (virtual or face-to-face ) to eligible and suitable young offenders aged 10-17 and adult offenders aged 18-25. Suitably trained and appropriately supervised mentors would focus on helping participants maintain a commitment to the RJ process. Working with their strengths, and leveraging positive adult relationships and existing community connections, mentors would also focus on supporting young people with RJ Agreements to comply with their Agreements. Referrals to Positive Youth Mentors would be made by Convenors in JACS’s Restorative Justice Unit where appropriate and with the consent of RJ participants.
Introduction to parkour Pilot Project
Noting that 5,513 young people aged 10 and over were under youth justice supervision on an average day across Australia in 2017-18, including 103 in the ACT – most (74%) of whom were young men who were most likely to be aged 17 (AIHW) – and noting that on an average day in 2017–18, the 118 custodial correctional facilities across Australia housed almost 42,000 prisoners (AIHW), 5,718 of whom were young men aged 18-24 (ABS), Positive Youth has partnered with Run Leap Roll to design and deliver the Introduction to Parkour for Justice Involved Young Men Pilot Project.
The project will provide an opportunity for the participants to engage in an activity that acknowledges their inherent capacity to grow and thrive, and that is designed to help them discover their strengths and build new skills in the context of positive adult relationships. The project will also provide an opportunity for the participants to learn how to leverage their strengths in prosocial ways, thus contributing to the reduction of high-risk behaviours. Additionally, Run Leap Roll’s philosophy involves teaching parkour skills in the natural and built environments, such as parks, playgrounds, landscaped gardens, amphitheatres and skate parks, which means that participants become part of the community in which they’re training.
This research-based project is consistent with positive youth development theory and practice and will be delivered across six, three hour sessions for a group of 6-10 justice or near-justice involved young men aged 16-24. Transport, lunch, snacks and refreshments will be provided. Whilst Positive Youth is currently seeking a grant to deliver the initiative as an ongoing program, agencies with the capacity to pay the fee can refer young people immediately. If we receive enough interest, we will implement the project in accordance with the schedule. For more information download the referral form here.
Training and Facilitation
Jeremy has extensive experience delivering training in the community sector, including leadership, person-centred practice, case management, law and ethics, and personal and professional boundaries. Jeremy has led forums and workshops on topics as diverse as:
- capacity building among public housing tenants;
- housing and homelessness;
- restorative justice;
- barriers to attracting and recruiting women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to uniformed roles in the justice sector; and
- mental health and gender equity in the law.
As a Senior Manager in the ACT Government, Jeremy managed a Registered Training Organisation and led a team of trainers to design and deliver innovative industry training to operational recruits in corrections. Content included translating research about the role correctional officers play in prisoner rehabilitation into practical learning opportunities aligned to operational policy and procedure. Jeremy also has extensive experience designing and delivering courses in the higher education sector, including law reform and social justice, penology and criminology, and young people and crime, and has taught case management in the vocational education and training sector.
Jeremy is available to design and deliver training on any of these topics to audiences in government, business and the community sector, with an emphasis on:
- case management;
- personal and professional boundaries; and
- the application of positive youth development theory and practice to program design and delivery.
Jeremy is also available to facilitate forums and workshops. Jeremy has a reputation as an engaging teacher and trainer who encourages personal and professional reflection and supports people with lived experience to participate in and enhance the learners’ experience.
Positive Youth knows that young people and their families are often at sea when it comes to navigating the youth justice and criminal justice systems. Positive Youth also knows that accessing appropriate services – let alone finding them in the first place – can be very difficult (if they exist at all!). And Positive Youth knows that the quality of service – once accessed – doesn’t always meet reasonable expectations.
With this in mind, Positive Youth can provide intensive support to young people aged 12-17 involved in the youth justice system, and young people aged 18-25 involved in the criminal justice system. Typically, intensive support may be useful where statutory services are involved, and/or in the presence of multiple risk factors, such as:
- drugs and alcohol;
- mental ill health;
- disconnection from school;
- homelessness or housing instability; and
Intensive support (sometimes called intensive case management or specialist support coordination), involves working closely with the young person and any other significant adults to identify the young person’s current state and build a roadmap to tackle the challenges ahead. While Positive Youth’s approach to intensive support is practical, it is not entirely focused on the things that have gone wrong. Rather, Positive Youth’s approach to intensive support is also focused on incorporating the young person’s strengths and leveraging those strengths in the context of positive adult relationships to achieve useful outcomes wherever possible.
At present, Positive Youth’s intensive support service is unfunded. However, the service can be accessed for a fee where funding is available. Contact Jeremy to find out more.
Positive Youth’s keystone program is NorthEast – a 12 month camp-based leadership program for justice or near justice involved young men aged 12-24 in the ACT and surrounding region.
The purpose of NorthEast is to work with the participants to identify and prioritise strengths and needs in a relationship-rich environment that is designed to give them the practical and emotional capacity to desist from crime, avoid negative behaviours and (ultimately) participate in the social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
NorthEast will address the factors that undermine the will to resist among this cohort in four phases, including:
- selection and screening (the “entry” phase);
- relationship-building activities and outdoor exploration (the “core” phase); and
- broad-based and flexible aftercare and individual planning (the “holding” phase).
Finally, the “transition” phase will support the participants to leverage new relationships and connections. As part of this phase, some of the participants will be invited to train to be peer leaders for subsequent iterations of the program. All of the participants will be invited to participate in a final evaluation.
As Positive Youth is a start-up, we are unable to offer NorthEast at this time. However, if you would like to help us get NorthEast ready for launch, please get in touch.