Australasian Youth Justice Administrators

About the Australasian Youth Justice Adminstrators


Hello and kia ora!  Welcome to the AYJA website.


The Australian Youth Justice Administrators (AYJA) operates as a collective body of senior executives whose purpose is to share information of relevance for all youth justice jurisdictions, support the collection of relevant youth justice data, support and contribute to research in the area of youth justice and promote and maintain national principles, standards and guidelines for youth justice.  AYJA membership comprises of a minimum of one senior executive officer from each of the Australian state and territory departments and New Zealand who is responsible for the delivery of youth justice services.

AYJA is committed to supporting an evidenced-based approach when working with young people.  Each year AYJA commissions important research and information papers to help build the national evidence base for youth justice policy.  AYJA works collaboratively with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the Productivity Commission and other research bodies in the development of this work.


 The objectives of AYJA are to:

  • Provide a forum for the administrators of youth justice from each Australian state and territory, and New Zealand to discuss matters of mutual interest concerning youth justice policy, practice, services and programs.
  • Promote a consistent and coordinated national approach to youth justice policy development, principles and standards.
  • Consider matters of national importance and/or concern within youth justice.


With the dissolution of the Standing Council on Community and Disability Services Advisory Council (SCCDSAC) in 2013, AYJA established a new governance arrangement via the Child Protection and Youth Justice Working Group (CPYJWG) of the Review of Government Service Provision (RGSP) in December 2014.

RGSP is an inter-governmental exercise, operating under COAG and is overseen by a Steering Committee that is made up of senior officers from central agencies of each state and territory, and the Australian Government.

AYJA Members

Currently, the AYJA Chair is Pauline Zardo – Executive Director Youth Justice Investment and Commissioning, Department of Youth Justice (Queensland).

The AYJA Deputy Chair is Alex Reid – Executive Director Community and Family Services, Department of Human Services (South Australia).


AYJA membership for each state and territory in Australia and New Zealand are listed below.  Links to each members department can be found on the home page in the ‘External Links’ side bar.

Australian Capital Territory – Silvia Lapic Executive Group Manager (Deputy), Child and Youth Protection Services and Tina Brendas Executive Branch Manager Youth Justice, Children, Youth and Families – Community Services Directorate

New South Wales – Paul O’Reilly Executive Director, Youth Justice – Department of Communities and Justice

Northern Territory – Rob Steer Executive Director, Youth Justice Operations and Sasha Dennis General Manager Youth Justice – Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Queensland – Pauline Zardo – Executive Director Youth Justice, Investment and Commissioning, Department of Youth Justice

South Australia – Alex Reid Executive Director, Community and Family Services and Mellanie Fernandez Director Communities and Justice – Department of Human Services

Tasmania – Fiona Atkins A/Director, Custodial Youth Justice and Anita Doig Manager Youth Justice Reform – Department for Education, Children and Young People

Victoria – Andrea Davidson Commissioner Youth Justice Victoria and Mia Hollick Executive Director Policy, Strategy and Performance Youth Justice – Department of Justice and Community Safety

Western Australia – Christine Ginbey Deputy Commissioner, Women and Young People and Tanya Castellas Director, Youth Justice Community Centres – Department of Justice

Aotearoa New Zealand – Ben Hannifin Director, Youth Justice Transformation Service Delivery and Iain Chapman National Director Youth Justice, Care and Protection Residences and Homes – Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children

Aboriginal Representative – Shaylee Matthews Chair of the AYJA Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Advisory Group – c/o Community Services Directorate (ACT)

AYJA Communities of Practice

AYJA has three advisory groups that work in partnership with AYJA to progress priority projects from the national work plan and to provide expert knowledge and advice to assist decision-making.

AYJA also has a primary subcommittee responsible for developing comparable national youth justice data and key performance indicators.  The Youth Justice Data and Information Group (YJ DIG) is the technical vehicle for collecting jurisdictional data and providing expert advice to inform the research in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between AYJA and AIHW.

Youth Justice Data and Information Group (YJ DIG) – Chaired by Tina Brendas AYJA member for the ACT


National Youth Justice Policy Forum (NYJPF) – Chaired by Paul O’Reilly AYJA member for NSW

Detention Centre Management Community of Practice (DCM) – Chaired by Ben Hannifin AYJA member for NZ

Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Advisory Group – Chaired by Shaylee Matthews IAG representative for the ACT and invited AYJA member

Shaylee is the eldest of six children and a descendant from the Anawain and Gomeroi Nations, who grew up in Wonnaurua Nation and relocated to Sydney in 2015.  Shaylee commenced with Youth Justice, NSW in October 2017 as the Identified caseworker.  Currently Shaylee is the Senior Director Cultural Services Child and Youth Protection Servies, Community Services Directorate.  Shaylee is passionate about her community and works tirelessly to make a positive difference.  Shaylee makes the time to go back to country to feel that sense of belonging and connectedness.  This helps her remain focused, grounded, and strong, enabling Shaylee to continue to be an effective influencer professionally and for her community.

AYJA Meetings

AYJA holds two face-to-face meetings each year, one in May and one in November.  Between these two meetings, a number of teleconferences are scheduled to manage general business, unfinished business from face-to-face meetings, or to discuss specific matters that may arise.

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for AYJA identify:

  • The membership and operational arrangements
  • The scope of AYJA responsibilities
  • Specific actions to progress AYJA responsibilities.

AYJA will:

  • Promote the national principles and standards of youth justice
  • Provide youth justice data and information to relevant committees
  • Promote and maintain relevant benchmarks for youth justice administration through national principles, standards and guidelines for states and territories to model
  • Share relevant information among youth justice jurisdictions
  • Provide a mechanism for information exchange.

In order to meet its objectives AYJA undertakes to:

  • Make use of data and research available to progress jurisdictional agendas on youth justice issues
  • Identify and advise on efficiencies and effectiveness in practice
  • Support and contribute to building the evidence base for effective youth justice responses
  • Maintain and enhance information and research partnerships and reporting authorities
  • Maintain a focus on issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island young people, Māori young people, other cultural groups and vulnerable groups throughout the work AYJA pursues
  • Establish links with relevant forums and key partners to ensure consideration of youth justice issues
  • Provide oversight and strategic direction to the Youth Justice Data and Information Group (YJ DIG)
  • Continue the development of the Youth Justice National Minimum Data Set (YJ NMDS)
  • Deliver a youth justice conference on a biennial basis.

AYJA Membership:

  • Each jurisdiction agrees to participate in AYJA and provide at least one senior executive responsible for the delivery of youth justice services
  • Two face-to-face meetings will be held each year with each participating jurisdiction committed to hosting a meeting on a rotational basis
  • Each jurisdiction agrees to provide chairmanship to AYJA for a two-year period on a rotational basis
  • The Deputy Chair will shadow the AYJA Chair for a two-year period in preparation to take over as AYJA Chair for the next two-year period
  • Each jurisdiction agrees to provide chairmanship to AYJA subcommittees as required.
  • The Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Māori Advisory Group will be an
    invited member of AYJA to provide cultural advice and expertise to inform decisions that
    will impact Indigenous children, families/whānau and communities/iwi and hapū

The Terms of Reference is approved by members and reviewed every year to ensure it remains relevant and contemporary.  The AYJA Structure  is now attached to the ToR to show an overarching picture of AYJA subcommittees, partners and meeting commitments.

Principles of Youth Justice in Australia

The Principles of Youth Justice in Australia (the Principles) were endorsed by all states and territories and subsequently released in October 2014.  As part of the AJJA-AYJA rebranding exercise the Principles were redesigned to include the new AYJA logo.

AYJA has established the Principles as the foundation document for youth justice in Australia.  The ten Principles are:

  • Offending behaviour is prevented and young people are diverted from the justice system
  • The youth justice system holds young people accountable for their behaviour
  • Effective support to victims of youth offending
  • Effective policy and service responses to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the justice system
  • Authentic collaboration across service systems
  • Service responses are evidenced based
  • Developmental needs of young people are addressed
  • Interventions are informed by the drivers of offending and the assessed risk of future offending
  • Health and mental health needs of young people are addressed
  • Support to young people is individualised and reflects the diversity of cultures and communities in which they live.

The Principles build upon the National AYJA Youth Justice Standards (2009) which are broadly used to assess the delivery of youth justice programs and services across Australia.

Youth justice practitioners are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Principles and to use them as a guide in the development, implementation and assessment across youth justice program and service delivery.

Feel free to display the Principles Poster and/or the Brochures in your office and youth justice centres.

AYJA National Standards for Youth Justice in Australia

AYJA is pleased to present the revised AYJA National Standards for Youth Justice in Australia (the Standards), which provide a set of aspirational standards of practice for child-centred youth justice services in Australia.

The AYJA Standards for Youth Justice in Australia (2023) voids and supersedes all previous versions of the Standards:

  • Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators Juvenile Justice Standards for Custodial Facilities (1999).
  • Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators Juvenile Justice Standards Part 1 & 2 (2009).
  • Juvenile Justice Standards Evidence Guide (2010).
  • Juvenile Justice Standards Assessment Framework (2010).

The revised Standards:

  • Provide a set of aspirational standards of practice for child-centred youth justice services in Australia.
  • Recognise that children and young people are different to adults, with different needs, vulnerabilities and behaviours.
  • Acknowledge the need for inclusive services that reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of Australian communities.
  • Promote a consistent, coordinated and best practice national approach to youth justice.

It is hoped that the Standards will promote better outcomes for young people, their families and communities who come into contact with the youth justice system.

AYJA is grateful to everyone who contributed to the development of the revised Standards and looks forward to working together to implement the Standards in our youth justice departments.

These Standards were launched on 16 October 2023, alongside the very first Australasian Youth Justice Acknowledgement Day (AYJAD).

Please note that a child-friendly version of the Standards and posters will be available in the very near future.  Watch this space!!

Artwork Acknowledgement – The artwork on the cover if the Standards entitled ‘Community’ was created by a young person at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre (South Australia) in 2015. Young people residing in Kurlana Tapa at the time gave AYJA permission for several of their artworks to be used in AYJA documents and displayed on the AYJA website on the proviso that their names and identities were not shown.


Australasian Youth Justice Administrators

Level 13, 150 Mary Street

Brisbane QLD 4000

[email protected]
+61 476 501 946
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