By Olivia Jaggard-Hawkins of Youth Junction Inc.

    The pandemic has had some significant impacts.  For over twenty years the Youth Junction Inc in Sunshine has provided community programs which support behaviour change for young people engaged in the justice system, and increase their skill development and connection to education, employment, and community. Their services are provided across Western Melbourne and in Hume.   

    In the last few years the organisation has seen a significant increase in the complexity in cases. Among the challenges the team faced in the 2020-2022 period was in being able to support an increase in very challenging issues that young people were facing, in particular the numbers of young people coming into the service having experienced some form of Family Violence or have used Family Violence. Since the 2016 Recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the community now understands a great deal more around our obligations to respond to family violence and our obligations to keep vulnerable community members safe. 

    Many young people are affected by family violence in some form, and the numbers are greater if they are already in connection with the justice system. The Youth Junction identified that it wanted to provide a specialist Family Violence response in a mode that worked for young people and take the time to work alongside them in a non-judgemental way, in the same way that it has previously worked one on one with clients. In July the Youth Junction launched its Early Intervention Youth Behaviour Change Program, as it felt that this was the right time to talk to young people about what is happening to and for them, and work with them to develop healthy relationships and skills. 

    “The Youth Junction recognises that young people who use violence need support outside the criminal justice system; they need a chance to learn and develop coping skills in a non-punitive setting. We can intervene early to assist with alternative strategies to address these harmful patterns of behaviour and walk alongside young people to empower them to make changes that disrupt the cycle of violence.”  – Jo Malcolm-Black, CEO, The Youth Junction Inc

    The Youth Behaviour Change program is funded by the Victorian Government’s Building Safer Communities Program, and supported by Victorian Legal Aid, Youth Law and No To Violence, the Men’s Behaviour Change Peak Body.

    The program is understood to be the only program aimed at working with 17–25-year-olds in Hume, Brimbank, Melton and Wyndham who are using family violence, and engaged in the Justice system. Young people in the program work with a youth worker over a period of 3 to 6 months and receive a combination of individualised supports, case management and group skills development.  

    The program uses Men’s Behaviour Change principles and the ERIC (Emotional Regulation and Impulse Control) tool pioneered by Deakin University to elicit insight into behaviours and skill-developing which creates safe respectful relationships.  The solution is seen as potentially filling a gap in services to young people;

    “Those under the age of 18 are currently ineligible for Men’s Behaviour Change programs, and attrition is high with those under the age of 25 unlikely to attend programs.   We need coordinated, holistic and therapeutic responses that address the root cause of violence and support young people to choose other paths – and stop using violence.” – Melonie Sheehan, Head of Services, No to Violence. 

    This project hopes to intervene early to reduce the effects of family violence throughout the community and support young people on their journey. If you or a young person that you know needs support, contact us on for more information. 


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