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University of Sydney Youth Justice Collaboration

Exploring all areas of youth justice systems
The University of Sydney's Youth Justice Collaboration aims to improve youth justice outcomes and to ultimately prevent youth crime.

The University of Sydney has numerous strengths in this area and has a track record of work across disciplines, faculties and research centres directly and indirectly relevant to youth justice systems and young people in conflict with the law.

Through a whole-of-university approach, the University of Sydney can have a significant positive impact on youth justice systems and outcomes.

Associated research centres

A host of University of Sydney staff and research centres have tremendous expertise in or related to the area of youth justice. Some of the relevant research centres include:

Established in 2018, The Matilda Centre is a world-first multidisciplinary centre conducting research in substance use and mental health in order to improve the lives of those affected by comorbid substance use and mental disorders. 

The Brain and Mind Centre is a global leader in research and treatment. In particular, they focus on conditions that affect child development, youth mental health and brain ageing. Two of their key research areas include child neurodevelopment and mental health and youth mental health and technology.

The Research Centre for Children and Families was established in 2019 to facilitate a broad range of research addressing vulnerable children and families. The Centre aims to provide locally generated evidence regarding the effects of policy and service responses on vulnerable children and families. 

The Centre for Disability Research and Policy seeks to reduce the disadvantage experienced by people living with disability by improving the social and economic engagement, and general health and wellbeing of those experiencing disability through policy and practice. The centre utilises a collaborative approach with a variety of local and international organisations, governments and service providers. The Centre for Disability Research and Policy works in partnership with and employs people with lived experience of disability, in order to highlight the voices of those affected and achieve the most productive outcomes. 

Established in 2017, the Cyberpsychology Research Group represents Australia’s first formal research group examining the impact of consumer technologies (smartphones, video games, social networking, wearable technology, virtual reality and artificial technology) on human behaviour, cognition and attitudes. The Centre focuses on a variety of research areas, including: e-mental health and online counselling, social media, internet addiction, cyberbulling, virtual reality, and more. They aim to work with industry partners, NGO’s and government organisations to develop evidence based solutions that positively impact health outcomes and expand education and training in cyberpsychology and digital health. 

The Gambling Research and Treatment Clinic is a GAMBLEAWARE provider which seeks to prevent and minimise harm resulting from problem gambling. The Clinic provides free and confidential therapy and support to those experiencing gambling related difficulties. 

The Communication Disorders Treatment and Research Clinic (CDTRC) is a teaching and research facility that provides speech pathology to a wide range of clients including members of the public. 

The clinic's assessments and therapy are provided by qualified speech pathologists supervising speech pathology students undertaking clinical or fieldwork training. Supervised students are able to see adults and children with a range of communication difficulties including language disorders, speech disorders, voice problems, stuttering, and swallowing disorders. 

Past events

Students from across the university were invited to register for a tour of a former youth detention centre – Yasmar. The 100 available spots were filled very quickly from students studying various degrees including education, psychology, social work, criminology and law. The day proved to be very successful with students getting a briefing from Youth Justice NSW staff before spending time on a unit that formerly housed young people. Students learnt about the contemporary features of the youth justice system, hearing about the challenges of working in youth detention and the ways that staff try to help young people. Students then spent time talking with YJNSW staff in small groups asking questions about the youth justice system, career options, and more.

On 27 February 2024, the University of Sydney Law School hosted the book launch of Youth Crime, Youth Justice and Children's Courts in NSW, co-edited by Dr Garner Clancey, Sydney Law School, and Dr Rohan Lulham, University of Sydney. The book provides a comprehensive account of the complex arrangements impacting youth crime, youth justice and Children’s Courts in NSW.

On 25 October 2023, a free webinar was hosted by the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Youth Justice Research Collaboration at the University of Sydney.

The webinar provided an opportunity for academics and professionals to detail and discuss the upholding of children’s rights and participation in the English and Australian Youth Justice Systems. The webinar provided opportunities for interactive discussions about the enablers and barriers to meaningful participation in youth justice systems.

View the webinar - 'Children's Rights and Participation in Youth Justice Systems: An International Perspective'.

In April 1998, the Young Offenders Act 1997 commenced in New South Wales. It provided a legislative basis for the diversion of young people from formal court proceedings and introduced, amongst other things, youth justice conferences.

On 3 May 2023, a panel discussion involving key actors in the development and initial implementation of the YOA reflected on this history and discussed the challenges of implementing the legislation and the benefits of diverting young people from more formal criminal justice interventions.

Associate Professor Garner Clancey facilitated the panel discussion which included:

  • Jenny Bargen
  • Louise Blazejowska
  • Dr Jane Bolitho
  • Richard Funston
  • Acting Superintendent Joanne Schultz

View the webinar - 'Reflecting on 25 Years of the Young Offenders Act 1997 in NSW'.

Youth Crime and Youth Justice Forum was held at the University of Sydney Law School on 24 November 2022.

Keynote speakers included:

  • Judge Ellen Skinner, President of the NSW Children’s Court 
  • Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
  • Mike Wheaton, Director of Policy and Practice, Youth Justice NSW 
  • Kate Munro, Youth Action CEO

A webinar delivered by three research staff from the Matilda Centre to Youth Justice NSW, highlighting various projects relevant to youth justice. 

View the webinar - 'Addressing mental health and substance use in the youth justice setting'.

A webinar delivered by staff from the Department of Communities and Justice Youth Frontiers program and USYD's Research Centre for Children and Families. 

View the webinar - 'Using a core components approach in evidence review and service redesign in youth mentoring'.

Videos and podcasts

Just Cause podcast - Interview with A/Prof Garner Clancey

Just Cause podcast interview with Garner Clancey

Listen via SoundCloud

The juvenile justice system is under constant critique. But in this podcast episode, LLB student Julia Jacobson talks to Associate Professor Garner Clancy about why there is reason to have hope in the future of youth justice in Australia. With an emphasis on the need for innovation and interdisciplinarity in the study of law, this episode reflects on the relationship between theory and practice.


Youth Justice NSW and the University of Sydney

Children's Rights and Participation in Youth Justice Systems: An International Perspective

Reflecting on 25 Years of the Young Offenders Act 1997 in NSW

Associate Professor Garner Clancey

  • +61 2 9351 0200
  • Law School Building (F10) Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus, The University of Sydney NSW 2006 AUSTRALIA

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