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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.

Our people

Numerous University of Sydney staff have direct or indirect interest or experience in youth justice systems. A small number have come together to establish the Youth Justice Collaboration:

Garner Clancey

Associate Professor Garner Clancey, Lead

Visit Associate Professor Garner Clancey's academic profile.

Dr Lobna Yassine

Dr Lobna Yassine, Social Work

Visit Dr Lobna Yassine's academic profile.

Professor Jioji Ravulo

Professor Jioji Ravulo, Chair of Social Work

Visit Professor Jioji Ravulo's academic profile.

Associate Professor Emma Barrett

Associate Professor Emma Barrett, The Matilda Centre

Visit Associate Professor Emma Barrett's academic profile.


Dr Rohan Lulham

Dr Rohan Lulham, Architecture, Design and Planning

Visit Dr Rohan Lulham's academic profile.

Lluwannee George

Lluwannee George

Lluwannee George currently works within Human Resources as the Manager, Indigenous Employment. She previously worked as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, at the Australian Human Rights Commission where she contributed to the writing of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voice Report 2020. Lluwannee also spent over 10 years working in the Justice sector for Youth Justice (formally Juvenile Justice NSW) in the Juvenile Justice Aboriginal Strategic Coordination Unit. This included managing the Agency’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategic Plan.

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 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. 


Some of the many youth justice-related projects currently running at the University of Sydney include:

  • Industry and Community Project Units bring together students from across various disciplines and faculties/schools, to look at applying innovation and creativity to solve real world issues. In semester 1, 2023, students looked at multicultural practice and outcomes in the Youth Justice System. In semester 2, 2023, students explore the possibilities for digital innovations in the custodial setting. Youth Justice NSW is the industry partner for this project. 
  • Two Digital Innovation student groups are working on gamifying parts of a widely used youth justice rehabilitation program.
  • Two students within the unit of study Projects in Exercise Physiology within the Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science in the Faculty of Medicine and Health are integrating an Exercise Physiology service for young people at the Cobham Youth Justice Centre. The projects adds a structured exercise delivery service in group and one-on-one dynamics that takes into account specialised needs with respect to engagement and safety
  • A group of postgraduate strategic design students are working on a digital transformation project brief for Youth Justice NSW.
  • Two groups Law students are working on voluntary Law Reform Projects focused on legal issues of increasing use of digital technology in youth custody and harmonising youth justice legislation in NSW. 
  • An oral history pilot project, led by Dr Jed Evans from the Discipline of English, involves long-term Youth Justice NSW custodial staff speaking about their experiences and insights. This pilot project is testing this approach to capturing stories from custodial staff about their experiences.
  • Pasifika Review - Professor Jioji Ravulo undertook a formal review of the Pasifika Program implemented by Cobham Youth Justice Centre. The program works alongside young people who identify as being from an Indigenous-Pacific heritage to further support a deeper insight and understanding of cultural strengths and perspectives that support individual and family identities alongside their wellbeing. This initiative strived to decrease unhelpful behaviours whilst focussing on pro-social engagement with education, vocational pursuits and employment.
  • Master of Occupational Therapy students undertaking a Community Fieldwork Project Placement (OCCP5239) developed a series of visual aid resources (pdf, 2.3MB) for Justice New South Wales. The placement was supervised by Associate Professor Garner Clancey and supported by academic instructors at The University of Sydney.
  • An Industry and Community Project Unit in semester 1 2023. This unit brought students from across various disciplines and faculties/schools, to look at multicultural practice and outcomes in the Youth Justice System. Youth Justice NSW was the industry partner for this project.
  • Two postgraduate exercise physiology students conducted an analysis of the contribution exercise physiology can make to young people in detention. This project was supervised by Dr Tim Davies
  • Acoustic recordings were taken in a number of youth justice settings. Led by Associate Professor Densil Cabrera from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, this small project looked at the acoustics of living areas of custodial units. 
  • A working group consisting of University of Sydney and Youth Justice NSW staff explored the digital needs of the youth justice system. Digital Innovation students progressed this work in semester 1 2023. 
  • Students from various University of Sydney faculties/school (including criminology, social work, media and communication, politics, etc.) have completed placements with Youth Justice NSW in recent years.

In addition to these student placements, students have worked on various voluntary or for credit projects. Some have included:

  • Postgraduate strategic design students completed a project in semester 2 2022, which resulted in the 'A place to go' design guidance report (pdf, 10.7 MB).
  • Digital Innovation students have worked on various youth justice projects. During semester 1 2021 a group developed virtual reality content depicting the day in the life of a youth officer working in a Youth Justice Centre (YJC). This involved filming in one centre and rendering the images in virtual reality. Students enrolled in the same unit worked on two YJNSW projects in semester 1 2022 focusing on a career pathways self-guided learning tool.
  • USYD Law students volunteered for the Law Reform Support Project and worked on four YJNSW projects in semester 2 2021 (bail, terrorism/high risk offenders, traffic, and age of criminal responsibility). 
  • A group of students volunteered in semester 1 2022 and extended the work on the bail/short-term remand project, including developing materials for use in police training on making bail decisions. 
  • Students worked on two projects for the Children’s Court of NSW in semester 2 2022. Both projects related to sentencing of young people in Children’s Court.

Research students

Higher degree research students are also actively engaged in youth justice research. These include:

Operationalisation of the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) approach to rehabilitation in NSW Youth Justice Centres through the exploration of a staff induction training course.

Laura Metcalfe - The minimum age of criminal responsibility in NSW Australia: examining the operation of doli incapax and implications of reform.

Past events

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'.

A 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'.

Our latest events

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