How Youth on Track works
Youth on Track is delivered by Youth Justice NSW and service providers. Learn about the referral process and eligibility criteria for young people.
Referral and screening
Youth on Track works in partnership with Youth on Track service providers. These providers are non-government organisations who work with participants across all stages of the program.
There are two types of referrals:
discretionary referrals, and
Once the young person has been screened and is found eligible for the program, they will be referred to a Youth on Track service provider.
The referral includes information about whether the young person has an existing case manager with another agency, referral source, contact information, offences, known risks and any upcoming court or conference dates.
These referrals are made by organisations that work with young people and have identified someone that they think is a high risk.
People who can make discretionary referrals include:
Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network
out-of-home care providers
the Family Referral Service
mental health services and organisations
To make a discretionary referral:
- download the Youth on Track discretionary referral form, or
- complete the Youth on Track online discretionary referral form.
These referrals are made by the Youth on Track Screening Officer. They screen data from NSW Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS) and automatically refer a young person who has had at least two formal contacts with police.
They also assess a young person’s likelihood of re-offending. If the young person has a 60% or higher chance of re-offending, they may be referred to the program. The offence must occur in one of the Youth on Track site areas.
Youth on Track is a voluntary program, and the young person must consent to be involved.
When referring a young person to Youth on Track, they must:
be between 10 to 17 years
have at least one formal contact with police (caution, charge or Youth Justice Conference)
have offended in, live in, or go to school in a Youth on Track site area
have offending risk factors (such as truancy, child at risk reports, pro-criminal peer association, family history of domestic violence, or substance abuse)
have no current or prior supervised court order or spent time in custody on a control order.
Once a young person is referred and meets the above criteria, the Youth on Track screening officer will assess whether they are eligible.
A young person is ineligible for the program if:
the young person lives outside of a service area for Youth on Track
the provider completes a risk assessment of the young person and their family, and determines them unsafe to work with
their existing case manager declines the young person’s participation in Youth on Track as they feel it is not in the young person’s best interests.
Once the young person is referred, the Youth on Track caseworker will contact the young person and their family. They will explain their role, arrange a meeting to explain how the program works and ask for the young person’s consent to participate.
The Youth on Track caseworker works with NSW Police, local schools, community groups, and other members of the community to engage young people and their families.
If the young person has an existing case manager with another agency, the Youth on Track service provider will contact the case manager before contacting the young person or parent. Youth on Track will discuss with the young person’s case manager how the program can work with their existing case plan to address the young person's risks and needs.
Once a young person consents to participate in the program, the Youth on Track service provider will organise two assessments for the young person:
Cognitive Disability Screening Tool
The Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory – Australian Adaptation (YLS/CMI-AA)
Both assessments need to be completed within four weeks of the young person consenting to the program.
Young people who are referred to Youth on Track must be screened for cognitive disabilities. This assessment uses validated tools such as the Child and Adolescent Intellectual Disability Screening Questionnaire (CAIDS-Q).
These tools do not assess whether a young person has a cognitive disability. They assess if the young person needs more support when creating their case plan and if they should be referred to other clinicians.
The provider must consider any identified disabilities when developing a young person’s case plan.
The YLS/CMI-AA is a risk and needs assessment used to determine the type of case plan a young person will need. The assessment is broken down into four parts:
Assessment of risks and needs – focuses on the factors in a young person’s life that put them at risk of re-offending. Some of these factors include a young person’s previous offences, family and living circumstances, history of substance abuse, education and employment, involvement in recreational activities, attitudes, personality and behaviour.
Summary of risk factors – this is an overall score of a young person’s risk level of re-offending. The score is categorised by low, medium, medium-high and high. This score is used to help Youth on Track understand the type of service a young person needs.
Assessment of other needs/special considerations – this is where the case manager considers any other factors in a young person’s life that might need to be considered when developing their case plan. These factors may or may not directly affect a young person’s re-offending risk.
Final risk level and professional override – this is when the case manager makes the final decision about what type of service a young person needs. They take into consideration all the factors from the previous assessments and develop a plan that suits the young person’s needs.
Once the assessments have been made, Youth on Track service providers create an individualised case plan for the young person. This means they develop a plan that focuses on the factors that put a young person at risk of re-offending.
The program uses a combination of Youth on Track case managers and service providers. The Youth on Track case managers coordinate the services, help with accessing support and coordinate the interventions. The service providers run the programs for the interventions. They also provide casework for the young person and help them with their goals.
Youth on Track service providers run the intervention programs for young people. These interventions are focused on preventing behaviour that could lead to an offence. These are called offence-focused interventions concentrating on a young person’s family, behaviour, and education.
This type of intervention focuses on helping the young person improve communication, solve problems, and resolve conflicts with their family. It also helps parents and carers improve their parenting skills and relationships with the young person.
The goal of family interventions is to increase protective factors like communicating clearly with family members and decrease risk factors for the family.
This intervention focuses on decreasing anti-social behaviour and pro-criminal thinking in a young person. Some interventions used are cognitive behavioural therapy with a trained psychologist.
This type of therapy challenges attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour that make a young person more likely to offend. It also focuses on improving a young person’s problem-solving and social skills.
This intervention focuses on the importance of education in a young person’s life.
The service provider works in partnership with schools to improve a young person’s access and involvement in education.
It encourages a young person to re-join mainstream schooling and works on the behavioural, emotional, and cognitive issues that may impact a young person’s ability to go to school.
Youth on Track providers also help run other intervention programs.
These programs include:
drug and alcohol counselling
training and employment programs
Centrelink and other financial services
accommodation providers and accommodation support services
living skills development
social and personal development activities
recreation and leisure activities
cultural support programs.
Brokerage is when Youth on Track provides emergency financial assistance to a young person or their family.
An example of this could be paying part of an overdue electricity bill. It can also be used to help pay for other interventions that the service provider can’t provide.
Youth on Track caseworkers assess whether a young person has successfully completed the program.
This assessment is made by assessing if a young person’s:
formal contact with police is reduced
wellbeing is improved by reducing their re-offending risk
participation and achievement in education or employment has improved
family has more positive behaviours and relationships.
A young person may also exit Youth on Track if they don’t meet the completion criteria. However, they are referred to an alternative case manager for ongoing support, such as Youth Justice or their out-of-home-care service provider.