2020 Network wrap up

The pre-covid world…

Back in February, we got together in person with drinks and nibbles to host the launch of the Local Time Design Guide for Victoria.

Dr Sanne Oostermeijer and Matthew Dwyer’s award-winning Local Time Design Guide outlines a new architectural model for youth justice facilities that are ‘small-scale, integrated in the local community, therapeutic and capable of differentiated security’. The Design Guide acts as a starting point for discussions with your local stakeholders, community organisations and government.

We hope that you find it useful as an advocacy tool that shows there are much better alternatives than supermax youth jails located away from community.


Our final in person event for the year was a research workshop in March: The futur

e of Youth Justice: Collaborating for change with lessons from the Netherlands. It was part of the series of events we had planned for 2020 before the pandemic struck.

The workshop took the form of a small symposium involving Government and practitioner partners across the justice and legal sector, who provided important input and gauged appetite for – and canvassed potential barriers to – implementation of small-scale, community-based, therapeutic youth justice facilities in Victoria.

We hope to continue with this work in leading the ongoing conversation and action plan for introducing these kinds of youth justice facilities to Victoria in 2021.

Changing to an online world

Later in March, we found ourselves adapting to the fast changing world of lockdowns, often poor home internet connection, too many Zoom meetings, webinars and ‘ISO check ins’.

Our friends at WorthASecondChance hosted a series of video community check ins, which included conversations with Fleur, Diana Johns (our network co-convenor), and Sanne:

Iso community check in with Fleur Souverein back in Amsterdam

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Iso Community Check in: what kind of criminal justice system do we want for the future?


Can small Scale Youth Justice Facilities work in Victoria?


Diana was also part of an online panel discussion with other members of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Criminology’s (ANZSOC) newly formed Thematic Group on Children and Young People in the Criminal Justice SystemThe myth of the ‘child offender’ – a panel event.

Panelists explored recent examples of ‘the myth of the child offender’ and considered concrete ways to challenge this myth, to deepen our understanding of the complexities it hides, to bring about better outcomes for children.

Our network also co-hosted an online panel event: How can we build culturally safer and relationally stronger schools? The panel, moderated by our network co-convenor Sophie Rudolph, reflected on the challenges and opportunities for building stronger and safer schools to support and value young people.

Network advocacy

During the pandemic, we issued a Statement in solidarity with communities affected by police violence and racism. We stood in solidarity with communities in Australia and the United States that have experienced and witnessed violence and racism, resulting in trauma and death.

Our network joined the 350 criminal justice experts to endorse an important open letter to all Australian Attorneys General and Corrections Ministers. It urged their immediate action to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in Australian prisons and criminal justice systems, noting that this requires information, independent monitoring and release from prison and youth detention centres.

We also joined 40 other organisations as well as justice advocates and academics, to endorse a joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 . Of particular concern was the issue around restrictions being put in place in some youth detention centres in Australia which  have meant that children cannot have face to face visits and likely have limited access to face-to-face education other support services:

Renewed call for urgent Aus government action on COVID-19 in places of detention

We continued to be part of the campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility: Why we support the national call to #RaiseTheAge

RTA national

Collaborating for better outcomes for young people

This year we continued our collaboration with the Koorie Youth Council with Sophie’s reflection on the education implications of the Ngaga_dji , report in:

Sophie Rudolph Ngaga-dji, a call to action: education justice and youth imprisonment The Australian Educational Researcher (2020).

Sophie also contributed to a special digital edition of Overland, a collection of responses from our partner academics and practitioners across a range of disciplines exploring applications for the findings of the Ngadi-Dji Report:

Sophie Rudolph and Melitta Hogarth Taking history, racism and community seriously in education, Reflections on Ngaga-dji: Listening for Change, Overland, 2020.

More articles from the edition here.

Upcoming research projects in 2021

We are thrilled to announce that Sophie has been awarded Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for a three-year DECRA (Discovery Early Career Research Award) fellowship to explore school discipline and racialised exclusion! Read about her research project here: New research fellowship to address the school to prison pipeline in Victoria

Meanwhile, Diana is part of an interdisciplinary research team – with other network members – that has been awarded seed funding by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. This team will be developing recommendations for violence prevention programs for justice-involved young women. Participants in the research will include victim-survivors who have been exposed to the criminal justice system, youth advocates and front-line violence prevention and youth support staff.

And Diana’s work with her #UbuntuTeam partners – including community organisations AAFRO and Afri-Aus Care – will continue into 2021 with exciting developments to be announced soon! The team will be presenting at the African Youth Justice Forum to be held in Melbourne on 17 December 2020.

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