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Murray

Murray Robinson

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: Victoria Legal > General
Legal > Penal And Parole
To examine trauma-informed models of youth detention - USA, Norway, Netherlands
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Highlights:

i. Norway – evident mutual trust between officers and inmates, opportunities for learning and work are considered a priority, neighbour principle, robust transitions back to family and community from custody, early identification of trauma and its negative impact on the development of young people, the responsibility of youth offending is shared across government and society.

ii. Netherlands – strong protection of the human rights of young people in custody, restraint and isolation regarded as a system failure, graduate-qualified and highly trained staff working in units, units have open climates where the power differential is reduced, young people have input into operations, evidence based surveys are used to assess the quality of care experience, and the feedback is analysed and used to identify strengths and areas for development.

iii. US (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York) –staff are trained and supported to have an understanding of trauma and impact on the development of young people, staff have skills and emotional intelligence to manage their own emotions and behaviour, trauma informed framework underpins all work with young people, the milieu of the unit becomes the therapeutic modality for change, clinicians have a visible presence on units and actively support and coach staff, behaviour support programs are aligned to the trauma-informed framework, everyone has a working understanding of the model, the model is reinforced through a range of marketing tools, security is relational rather than dependent on technology and hardware, young people learn skills in therapy sessions and the messages are reinforced and applied on the units, use of evidence informed programs such as Sanctuary, ARC, TARGET and CPS contribute to the reduction of numbers of restraints, isolations and offending behaviour.

Conclusions

There is evidence that trauma informed operating models in secure facilities, such as Sanctuary, ARC, CPS and TARGET, make a significant contribution to the reduction of the restraints and seclusions of young people and levels of recidivism. The models need to be operated by a qualified, ideally pedagogical, and supported staffing team who also work in ‘open climate’ units, characterised by mutual respect and participatory decision-making where the unit itself becomes the therapeutic milieu. Operations of these units are supported by clinicians on the unit and driven by inspirational transformational leaders. 

The findings from the Fellowship are informing the development of the therapeutic operating model for youth justice facilities in Victoria. The other States in Australia are very interested and are monitoring the development of this model. Updates will be regularly shared through the Australian Juvenile Justice Administrators (AJJA) network.

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