Program attrition among youth and its relationship with reoffending from the Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART) program

Mr Jesse Nastaly1

1University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


Those who fail to complete intervention programs are at greater risk of reoffending and often re-offend more rapidly. The research into the prediction of program attrition and its relationship with recidivism is inconsistent among juvenile justice-involved youth.


This study employed a historical cohort design and consisted of 1315 youth who participated in the Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART) program between 1 January 2013 and 1 January 2015. All participants were matched to the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s (BOCSAR) Reoffending Database (RoD) to obtain recidivism data for a period of 12 months from date of program completion or attrition.


Program attrition was at a high rate among the cohort, with the majority of youth failing to complete the CHART program due to administrative or other factors rather than client-initiated factors. Program attrition was shown to be associated with key factors, such as non-compliance with the legal order, having a first contact with juvenile justice for a youth justice conference, and residing in a metropolitan area during program delivery compared to regional/remote areas. Youth who failed to complete the CHART program were at significantly greater risk of re-offending when controlling for multiple explanatory variables.


This research suggests that a number of factors can be used to predict program attrition among youth. Furthermore, program attrition is associated with an increased risk of recidivism among youth and this highlights the importance of identifying those who are likely to fail to complete the CHART program.


Jesse commenced his career with Juvenile Justice NSW in 2010 as a youth officer working at Cobham and Emu Plains Juvenile Justice Centre. Since commencing with Juvenile Justice, Jesse has worked in a variety of roles including as a caseworker, a counselor delivering the sex offending program, assistant manager, regional coordinator service delivery, and is currently the Manager, Operations Unit in Central Office. Jesse has a passion for youth justice research and practice, completing undergraduate and postgraduate studies in policing, criminology, forensic social work, and recently finalising his thesis to qualify for a Masters of Philosophy in Forensic Mental Health at the University of New South Wales.