Rehabilitation and case management: What do the recent major reviews of youth justice tell us?

Ms Shelley Turner1

1Monash University, Caulfield, Australia

If we’re serious about rehabilitation in youth justice, we need to get serious about designing effective systems of case management.  Since 2010, there have been at least six major reviews, including a Royal Commission into youth justice systems in Australia (see White & Gooda, 2017;McMillan & Davis, 2017;Armytage & Ogloff, 2017;Roy & Watchirs, 2011;NOETIC, 2010 #269;Northern Territory Government, 2011).  Each of these reviews has highlighted the critical role that case management plays in assisting youth justice to achieve its rehabilitative aims.  Case management in youth justice functions as a ‘framework’ (Day, 2003) or ‘central organising process’ (DJJ NSW, 2003) for supervision and the delivery of evidence-based, rehabilitative interventions and programs (see AIHW, 2017;Turner, 2010).  Indeed, the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators (AJJA) describes ‘case management’ as an ‘integral’ part of service provision to ‘support compliance, contribute to reducing offending and increase community safety’ (AJJA, 2009 p.6).  Similarly, the Productivity Commission requires youth justice jurisdictions to report on the number of ‘case plans prepared’ as a key effectiveness performance indicator in the Report of Government Services (ROGS).  Yet, case management has received very little critical research attention, particularly in Australian youth justice contexts.  This paper presents findings from a systematic review that examines the efficacy of case management in correctional contexts, including youth justice; and includes a summary of the key findings related to case management from the recent major reviews of Australian youth justice systems.


Shelley is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Monash University in Melbourne and is the lead curriculum designer for the Master of Social Work.  Prior to her academic appointment, Shelley has an extensive history of working in youth justice in New South Wales and Victoria, in roles such senior policy officer, area manager and youth justice counsellor.  Her work has been published online, in peer-reviewed journals, and in an international textbook on offender supervision.