The Youth Partnership Project:  Implementing A Cross-Sector Rethink of Youth Justice Early Intervention

Ms Karina Chicote1, Mr Ben Whitehouse2, Miss Keneasha Lindsay3,4, Dr Michelle Byrnes5,6,7,8

1Save the Children, Perth, Australia,

2Department of Communities , Armadale, Australia,

3 Higher Degree Research Student, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia ,

4Kurongkurl Katitjin Student Success Officer, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia,

5Director, Grow Your Life, Perth, Australia,

6Head of Clinical Psychology Unit, Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Sciences, Perth, Australia,

7Adjunct Associate Professor, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia,

8Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Shared Solutions: Strategies to bring diverse partners together to prevent youth offending

Shared problems like youth offending demand shared solutions.  But collaborative responses to complex problems cannot be sustained on goodwill alone.

The Youth Partnership Project is a strategic place-based initiative, focused on developing a better early intervention framework for youth justice. The project has successfully engaged state government agencies, local government, not-for-profit community services, academia and the private sector in working better together; improving outcomes for young people with complex needs through the planning and delivery of community services.

This presentation will explore how the YPP’s backbone organisation, hosted by Save the Children, has been central to bringing this diverse group of cross-sector partners together.  Showcasing the Youth Partnership Project’s Early Intervention Model, we will discuss the influence of our varied partners on the model’s development and highlight the ongoing importance of adaptive capacity.


Reflections on the Youth Partnership Project: Effective Engagement of Government Agencies and their role in Youth Justice Early Intervention

Within government, youth justice is traditionally seen as an issue for the department responsible for justice or corrective services.  However, the range of risk factors which can lead to offending behaviour in young people is rarely the mandate of this same agency. Therefore, inter-departmental collaboration is essential to prevent youth crime.

This presentation will reflect on the West Australian Department of Communities’ engagement in the Youth Partnership Project, with a focus on how the purposeful inclusion of strategies for systems coordination enable a cross-sector of partners to move beyond individual programs with isolated impact, to a collective approach with a common goal of preventing youth offending.  We will also explore how Government departments with a traditional focus on statutory services, have an important role to play in helping facilitate early intervention in order to be more responsive to the spectrum of needs in the community.


Insights from Participant Observation and Facilitator Perspectives Of The Youth Partnership Project – 2018

This research evaluates the move from punitive methods to early intervention in order to reduce the risk of disadvantaged West Australian youth entering the criminal justice system. This project was specifically developed to evaluate and provide future recommendations to the work that the Youth Partnership Project (YPP) has been doing in a low socioeconomic area of the Perth metropolitan region. The aim of YPP is to improve youth crime intervention methods to ensure better outcomes for young people in the Armadale area. To achieve this aim, this research examined how criminological theories aligned with the YPP’s Intensive Engagement Program. Data collection methods included participant observation and in-depth interviews with the youth workers and key stakeholders. From the analysis emerged four key themes: importance of relationships, cross-sector collaboration, the need for better youth workers and targeting criminogenic needs. Interviews of key representatives demonstrated an overwhelming suggestion for shared information across sectors which is supported in criminological research. Young people developed fast and meaningful relationships with the youth workers, this is something that is also supported as being effective for success by best practiced research. The current findings support what YPP are already doing in this sector and provide theory to strengthen their early intervention initiative. Early opportunities for YPP include academic publication, reconsider what constitutes youth ‘at-risk’ and evidenced-based insight into what works in relation to the existing body of literature that can benefit similar programs nationwide.


Healing & Growth of the Psychosocial, Intellectual and Neurocognitive Functioning of Young Males with Complex Needs: Evidence Based Attachment, Regulation and Competency Model

Complex developmental trauma describes children who have experienced multiple traumatic events that are chronically present during their development. The wide-ranging and pervasive impact of complex trauma includes but is not limited to the compromising of a child’s sense of safety, attachment, self-concept, emotional regulation, response flexibility, impulsivity, intellectual and neurocognitive functioning.  The Youth Partnership Project’s Early Intervention Model is grounded in current complex trauma theory and research and recognises the core impacts of complex trauma on the attachment (a safe caregiving system), self-regulation (ability to regulate and tolerate experiences) and competencies (support in the mastery of an array of tasks and skills which are crucial to the resilient outcome) of the child in addition to the importance of individually tailored trauma interventions (Blaustein & Kinniburgh, 2019). This presentation will provide a cross-sectional and longitudinal evaluation of the baseline and follow-up (6, 12, 18 months) psychosocial, intellectual and neurocognitive outcome measures of 20 young males with complex needs who have participated in the Youth Partnership Project (YPP) to date.  In addition, this presentation will reflect the various inter-relationships between the psychosocial, intellectual and neurocognitive outcome measures which have consequently guided further design of the YPP Model.  These comprehensive results demonstrate statistically significant improvements in each of the assessed psychosocial, intellectual and neurocognitive outcome measures which demonstrates and reinforces the efficacy of the designed and implemented YPP framework.


Karina Chicote leads Save the Children’s Place Based Strategy across WA. This role includes leading collective impact initiatives in both urban and remote communities, engaging stakeholders across community, government and not-for-profit sector to develop innovative cross-sector solutions to complex intergenerational challenges. With a background in youth work, Karina has developed several award-winning programs and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2018. Karina has completed a Master’s Degree in Human Rights, with her dissertation, ‘Leave No-one Behind: Australia’s Promise to Aboriginal Children’, an analysis of equality and its application to Australia’s development agenda.

Ben Whitehouse

Bio to come

Keneasha Lindsay is a Bardi woman who works as a Student Success Officer in Kurongkurl Katitjin at Edith Cowan University. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Forensic Biology & Toxicology and is currently finishing her Master’s at Murdoch University. Her research interest is centred on early intervention and preventing youth from become involved in the tertiary service system. Her thesis focuses on evaluating the Youth Partnership Project’s Intensive Engagement Program, from a criminological point of view.

Dr Michelle Byrnes is a Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Neuroscientist with over 25 years of clinical, assessment and research experience.  Dr Byrnes has completed 2 PhD’s at the University of WA, with her first in Neuroscience in 1994 and her second in Clinical Psychology in 2010.  Her expertise includes psychological therapy, functional neurocognitive assessments, post-traumatic growth, clinical research, teaching, supervision with over 55 peer reviewed journal publications.  Dr Michelle Byrnes is currently a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with the Youth Partnership Project and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Perron Institute of Neurological and Translational Sciences and Murdoch University.

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