Co-producing trauma-informed youth justice in Australia?

Andrew Day, Catia Malvaso, Luke Butcher, Joanne O'Connor, Katherine McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Recent years have seen significant policy and practice interest in how to best respond to the impact of childhood maltreatment and adversity on young people’s contact with youth justice systems. In Australia, this has resulted in increasing pressure to implement trauma-informed practice, although this is a term that has different meanings for different stakeholders, and little is known about the perspectives of justice-involved young people. This paper aims to review what is currently known about co-production in youth justice and discuss ways in which young people can be meaningfully involved in the development of trauma-informed practice frameworks. Design/methodology/approach: A narrative approach is used to present a contextual overview of youth justice in Australia, introduce key concepts underpinning trauma-informed practice and consider the barriers and facilitators of co-production and participatory approaches to the development and implementation of trauma-informed practice. Findings: Youth justice in Australia is widely viewed as in urgent need of reform, with broad interest in developing more trauma-informed practice in these systems. Co-production and participatory approaches are fundamental to the reform process and can help to ensure that the views and aspirations of the children for whom these systems are responsible are embedded in efforts to implement trauma-informed practice. Research limitations/implications: This paper presents an argument for implementing trauma-informed practice in Australian youth justice that is based on consultation and collaboration with young people. It does not present evidence about the potential effectiveness of such an approach. Practical implications: This paper has direct implications for youth justice practice, in terms of both service philosophy, design and delivery. Social implications: The work discussed in this paper offers possibilities for new and different ways of responding to youth crime and maintaining community safety. Originality/value: Whilst the need to re-imagine youth justice is widely recognised, there are few resources available to support efforts to co-produce trauma-informed practice. This paper synthesises what is known about these approaches and offers some suggestions and possible ways forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-120
Number of pages15
JournalSafer Communities
Issue number2
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2023

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