Young People and the Media in a Post-Conflict Society: Challenging Stereotypes and ‘Risking’ Retribution

Dr Faith Gordon1
1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

The media provide ‘an illusion of “openness”, presenting itself as a forum for competing points of view’, but in reality ‘“discourse” or agenda … sets the limits to what shall and …what shall not, be discussed by society’ (Barrat, 1994: 53).  As Gross (1992: 131) contends, when marginalised groups ‘attain visibility’, their viewpoints appear ‘only within a framework set out by’ the mainstream media.  In critiquing the contemporary applicability of Cohen’s (1972) original theorisation of ‘folk devils’ and ‘moral panics’, McRobbie and Thornton (1995: 568) argue that in contemporary society young people as ‘so-called folk devils’ now produce their own media to counter the mainstream.  This paper will draw upon over ten years’ worth of empirical research into the media’s representations of children and young people in post-conflict Northern Ireland (Gordon, 2018).  Further, the research explores children and young people’s creation of their own forms of media to challenge negative portrayals (Gordon, 2018).  In deconstructing McRobbie and Thornton’s (1995) argument, this paper proposes that it appears not to consider how significant consensus and dominant ideology are to the overall treatment of young people; in light of their position in contemporary society they remain a group with limited agency.  Drawing on empirical findings, this paper will demonstrate that previous research fails to assess whether the production of alternative forms of media have any impact on mainstream media representation of youth, and on societal reaction (Gordon, 2018).


Dr. Faith Gordon is a Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University, Director of the  Youth Justice Network and Research Associate of the Information Law & Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.  Previously Faith was a Lecturer at the University of Westminster. Faith’s sole-authored monograph for Palgrave Macmillan’s Socio-Legal Series was derived in a decade’s worth of research into the media representations of children and young people.  Faith regularly advises the children’s organisations and participated in drafting the Alternative Report for submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.


Conceptualising ‘youth’ through the lived experiences of case managers

Mr Joel Robert Mcgregor1
1University Of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia

This paper looks at the way that some case managers lived experience is brought to bear on definitions of ‘youth’. Those who work directly with young people have significant power to impact their decisions and, ultimately, shape their desistance pathway. Across literature on welfare it has been widely acknowledged that practitioners often have personal motivations for working with select groups. In this paper, I will examine the role of lived experience in the ways that youth are portrayed and represented as objects of intervention. Utilising analysis of qualitative data collected from a research project that examines case management practices, this article examines the personal motivations for case managers working with young people on desistance interventions, arguing (1) the case managers’ personal motivations should be at the forefront of understanding how they conceptualise their role and how this influences their day-to-day work practices, and (2) the case managers’ personal history foreshadows the construction of ‘the client’. This paper argues that the young person became a ‘client’ not only through institutional definitions or risk-based knowledges but through broader relations of moral authority that constituted governance.


Joel Robert McGregor is an associate lecturer and PhD candidate in the School of Humanities and Social Science at University of Newcastle, Australia. His research interests lie at the intersection of sociology and criminology with a focus on desistance and young people. He is currently finishing his PhD which investigates the day-to-day practices of case managers working with at-risk youth.


Fathers of the Year: the Queensland Police Force as a leader in juvenile justice in the years before Fitzgerald

Paul Bleakley1
1University Of New England, Armidale, Australia

In spite of its reputation as a department riddled with corruption and misconduct for much of the 20th Century, the Queensland Police Force enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as international trailblazers in the field of youth justice. Like the majority of police forces around Australia, Queensland police used the broad spectrum provisions of the Vagrants Act and other summary offences laws to discipline and, at times, harass young Queenslanders throughout the earlier half of the century; for the most part, this policy shifted dramatically upon the ascension of Francis Erich Bischof to the position of Police Commissioner. Widely considered to be the founding father of corruption in the Queensland Police Force, Bischof’s establishment of the state’s Juvenile Aid Bureau (JAB) has been lauded for its revolutionary introduction of the counsel-and-caution approach to youth crime. Though the JAB’s use of discretionary enforcement was heavily criticised in the reformist Whitrod era (1970-76), analysis of youth recidivism data indicates that the policy was an effective strategy in diverting young people from early interactions with the judicial system. While the Queensland Police Force faced a myriad of other problems associated with graft and cronyism, it is argued that its adoption of a counsel-and-caution policy fundamentally improved its approach to young people over the course of the 20th Century and stands as the single greatest contribution to Queensland policing of the Bischof era.

Paul Bleakley is a third year doctoral student who is currently attending the University of New England. With an academic focus on historical criminology, his interests are in police corruption and its impact on the community. A former journalist and news editor at major publications in both the United Kingdom and Australia, Paul worked primarily as a correspondent concentrating on crime and politics. He has also published work exploring the development of the modern counterculture, sexuality and popular culture.

Mini Me: The Adultification of the Victorian Juvenile Justice System

Natalia Antolak-saper1
1Faculty Of Law, Monash University  , Beaumaris, Australia

In May 2017, the Victorian State Government introduced significant reforms to the juvenile justice system to, inter alia, ensure that ‘serious young offenders are held accountable for their actions and punished for their crimes’ (White, 2017). These reforms were introduced predominantly through the enactment of the Children and Justice Legislation (Youth Justice Reform) Act 2017 (Vic) (‘the 2017 Act’) and included the following changes to the juvenile justice system: the introduction of youth control orders which would facilitate the imposition of curfews and restrict a youth offender’s use of social media;  increase the maximum penalties for certain offences from three to four years; ensure that young offenders who commit serious crimes be heard in adult court rather than the Children’s Court of Victoria; and disclose information pertaining to the identity of youth offenders in certain circumstances. These changes herald a shift towards the increasing adultification of the juvenile justice system (Merlo and Benekos, 2010); a shift that poses significant challenges to an effective juvenile justice system that recognises that children who offend ought to be treated differently to adults (Taylor, 2016). This paper considers these reforms and suggests that they are inconsistent with the best interests of the child, and signal a disregard of the experiences in cognate jurisdictions that have embraced less punitive juvenile justice reforms. In doing so, it is hoped that a more appropriate framework for the Victorian juvenile justice system is developed and implemented.

Natalia Antolak-Saper is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Monash University. Natalia graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology, and a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours. She completed her professional training with Lander & Rogers Lawyers, and was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and of the High Court of Australia. In 2012 she received an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship and commenced her PhD which examined the extent to which the media impacts upon sentencing policy. She has published articles on diverse topics including directed verdicts, bail conditions, and gambling regulation. She teaches criminal law and trusts in the LLB and JD programs at Monash. Her research areas are in comparative criminal law and procedure, and domestic and international sentencing.


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