Innovative approaches to social inclusion, participation and rehabilitation of young people intersecting the youth justice system

Ms Lauren Cusick1, Mr Conrad Connolly1

1Jesuit Social Services, SUNSHINE, Australia

Jesuit Social Services is a social change organisation with more than 40 years’ experience working with young people and adults involved in the justice system.

We have developed a range of innovative programs to respond to the complex presentations of young people in the justice system, including the Individual Support Program, the Youth Justice Housing Program (LINK) and Next Steps.

In our presentation we will outline the three programs, exploring the models and their rationale.  We will look at some of the key challenges faced by young people involved in the youth justice system – including access to safe and affordable housing, navigating a complex and fragmented service system and a lack of suitable responses for the specific needs of this cohort.

We will share with you some of our key innovative practices across these programs including:

  • the importance of a relational, trauma informed, strengths based model
  • designing models of support that target gaps in the existing service sector
  • tailoring responses that take into account the developmental stages of young people
  • a holistic and flexible service continuum capable of responding to young people with complex needs at every stage of their journey.

Lastly, we will explore our learnings and reflections thus far from these unique programs, as well as identifying areas for future development and positive change across the services system.


Conrad Connolly has been working with Jesuit Social Services for over five years managing programs to assist young people involved in the Justice system and experiencing homelessness. Conrad has had over 25 years’ experience in supporting people experiencing homelessness. Including the development & management of both crisis and long term interventions in alleviate peoples homelessness. Conrad has a Master’s in Public Policy (RMIT) and Post graduate studies in Housing Management (Swinburne. Uni), Community Development (VUT) & Anthropology (Melb. Uni). Conrad  presently Co-chairs the North/West Youth Network and an active member of the North/West Local Area Service Network for homeless Services in Melbourne.

Lauren Cusick has been working with Jesuit Social Services for over ten years. She has worked across a range of programs that provide intensive support to young people involved in the justice system and is currently the Manager for the Individual Support Program. Lauren has previously worked in the youth housing sector as well as  education/employment services and has strong interest in finding innovative and collaborative approaches to working with young people who intersect the child protection and youth justice system. Lauren holds a BA Hons, Criminology (Melbourne University).

Australasian Youth Justice Conference

The Australasian Youth Justice Administrators (AYJA) hosts a bi-annual Australasian Youth Justice Conference (AYJC) for academics, practitioners, and government and non-government agencies to drive and showcase youth justice initiatives and innovations nationally and internationally.  Learnings from these conferences contribute to evidence-based responses for youth justice and provide new ideas for youth justice at both a jurisdictional, national and international level.  EMAIL:

AYJA is working in collaboration with Juvenile Justice New South Wales (JJ NSW) and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) to deliver the third AYJC in 2019.

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