Watch our webinar on building culturally safer and relationally stronger schools

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On 26 August 2020 we co-hosted this webinar with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Our panel reflected on the challenges and opportunities for building stronger and safer schools to support and value young people.

You can watch the webinar in the youtube link below:

Some of the issues and questions raised by attendees through the Q&A were:

  • The importance of properly listening to First Nations communities.
  • The possibilities and potential challenges of a system of mandatory reporting of racism in schools
  • Some of the challenges and possibilities for teacher education that is reflexive
  • How do we know when we’re doing good anti-racism and decolonial work?
  • How do we move beyond tokenistic understandings of diversity and address cultures of whiteness

Panellists left the audience with some challenges to continue to think about, including:

  • How do teachers hold strong in their humanity while confronting the ways we have been conditioned to see some things and not others?
  • How do we get away from binary and deficit understandings of difference and move towards ways of working that value difference?
  • How do we listen to students even when they tell us things we might not want to hear?
  • How do we deeply know and understand the structures of racism and the multiple effects of racism on young people?

Would you like to be involved in further work in this area? If yes, do you have ideas/suggestions about how you could be involved/where to take this work next?


Please post your repy below or use this contact form:


How can we build culturally safer and relationally stronger schools?

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Your invitation to our free webinar:

Building Culturally Safer and Relationally Stronger Schools

on Wednesday 26 August  2020 at 11:00 AM AEST.

This webinar is co-hosted by our Justice-involved Young People Network with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Our panel will reflect on the challenges and opportunities for building stronger and safer schools to support and value young people.

In the Victorian government Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2020-2030 the first key direction is ‘Improving diversion and supporting early intervention and crime prevention’, which includes a commitment to ensuring that young people are engaged in education and connected to school, reducing school expulsion rates, and providing education support and information at the Children’s Court to re-engage young people in education. Education is therefore seen as an important right and an opportunity to strengthen connection and future opportunities. However, education has also been known to be a place in which young people can experience misunderstanding, alienation and discrimination.

This panel will reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities for building stronger and safer schools to support and value young people. If education and schools are to be part of an early intervention and diversion strategy we need to understand both how they may have been failing at this and what might need to occur to enable education to be a place of safety and strength.

The panel draws on the expertise of academics and educators working across youth justice and education contexts to analyse the challenges and propose some opportunities. A range of key ideas will be explored, including: power relations, reflexive teaching, cultural responsiveness, racism, and the importance of relationships in education.

Dr Melitta Hogarth, Kamileroi woman and Assistant Dean Indigenous at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, will explore the question – how do we make our schools less white? Drawing on a chapter written with Professor Tracy Bunda, she will propose some opportunities for addressing what has been an assimilatory impulse in Australian schools. She will examine some of the power relations in schools that impede relationship building and alienate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and will offer some suggestions for what might constitute quality partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Leah Avene is a Tuvaluan mother, musician, broadcaster and educator whose work focuses on personal, relational and collective decolonising. As Culturally Responsive Pedagogy Leader at Parkville College, Leah’s work aims to scrutinize and dismantle colonised culture whilst also celebrating the resilience, resistance and strength of first nations communities and people of colour across the globe. Leah will present a model of culturally responsive pedagogy that seeks to celebrate students strengths and decolonise relationships within the classroom.

Dr Nikki Moodie, is a Gomeroi/Kamileroi woman and Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne. She will present key findings from a number of systematic literature reviews on Indigenous education, including the impact of racism on the school experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and the factors that contribute to the development of school and Indigenous community engagement.

Dr Jessica Gannaway, Lecturer in Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, will examine possibilities for teacher reflexivity in order to shift teacher dispositions and therefore classroom relationships. Jessica poses that as members of an education system that continues to reify structural inequalities and racism, a teacher’s relational work in classrooms is at the frontlines of where these dynamics continually play out. Jessica explores the ways that teachers can reflect on their own dispositions and worldviews, whiteness and colonisation and their place within structures, in order to shift the way they interact within classroom communities.

The panel will be chaired by Dr Sophie Rudolph, Lecturer in Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and co-convener of the Justice-involved Young People Network.

Register to attend here.


Why we support the national call to #RaiseTheAge

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As some of us know that right now across Australia, children as young as 10 can be arrested by police, hauled before a court and locked away.

That’s why our network is proud to join with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organistions, medical and human rights legal experts to call for Australian governments to #RaiseTheAge of legal responsibility from 10 to 14.

Because children need care, love and support. Not handcuffs and prisons.

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Photo by Pixabay on


And watch this story on The Project:

With all that’s happened lately, you might be wondering what we can actually do to stop so many Indigenous Aussies being locked up, and killed. Well, there’s one key change that could make a huge difference and that’s to stop treating kids as criminals.


So, please consider joining us by signing the petition to keep kids in community:

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Together we can #RaiseTheAge across Australia


Our Statement in solidarity with communities affected by police violence and racism

BLMThis is a statement in solidarity with communities affected by police violence and racism issued by our Justice-involved Young People Network 

The Justice-involved Young People Network condemns police violence and racism. We stand in solidarity with communities in Australia and the United States that have recently experienced and witnessed violence and racism, resulting in trauma and death. We acknowledge that these recent events are part of a long-standing and unacceptable pattern of racist violence that should not be occurring. They contribute to ongoing and widespread trauma and suffering in communities that are often already marginalised and suffering other forms of injustice.

The over-representation of First Nations and racialised young people in the criminal justice system represents systemic racism. The violence experienced by young people from authorities and within justice institutions is unacceptable and contributes to fear, distrust and anger which undermine the relationships necessary for individual and collective healing, change and recovery.

Those in positions of power in our society – be they police, teachers, magistrates, guards or doctors – have a responsibility to conduct their work free from violence. These are professions where anti-racism education is vital in order to work towards social institutions that effectively address historical legacies of discrimination that contribute to ongoing suffering.

The Justice-involved Young People Network is committed to bringing together researchers, policymakers, practitioners and young people to address discrimination and injustice and build communities that nurture strong relationships, kindness, care and solidarity. We call on the government to ensure police institutions are held accountable for actions that endanger and traumatise the communities they serve, and to properly resource services and organisations that are working to support communities to thrive.



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

Yesterday, our network joined over 40 other organisations as well as justice advocates and academics, to endorse a joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19.

We share the concern 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.

Our network also agrees that the mass use of solitary confinement must not be part of the response to COVID-19– often labelled as ‘protective quarantine’– as a primary response to COVID-19 in prisons and youth detention centres.

Examples of solitary confinement being used in response to COVID-19 include Queensland Corrective Services’ new isolation protocols, which require all new people entering high security centres to be placed into isolation for 14 days with no time out of cell. Similar measures have also been adopted by Corrections Victoria, with the establishment of  ‘protective quarantine units’.

From the joint submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19

As stated in the submission, the pandemic presents an opportunity to rethink detention and sentencing policies generally, and to fully implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT)  regarding best practice in oversight and transparency of places of detention.

You can read the joint submission, which includes six recommendations here.

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