This procedure describe the client assessment and planning process (incorporating VONIY) for youth justice clients.


When to use this procedure

When conducting assessment and planning for young people subject to youth justice orders.


What else you need to know


Practice context and legislation

  • The Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY) is part of the integrated client assessment and planning process.
  • VONIY helps to ensure young people receive appropriate, offending-targeted assessment and systematic, planned case management.
  • Assessment requires worker collection and analysis of information. This involves collating information about the young person, identifying themes and key issues, and forming a conclusion about the young person's needs and risk of reoffending.
  • Assessment is the basis for deciding the appropriate intervention level for the young person's needs and their risk of reoffending, and developing a client service plan.
  • The client service plan is the driving force behind all aspects of the case management of the young person.
  • Assessment ensures all young people have:
    • an individual, evidence-based profile of needs that impact on their risk of reoffending
    • an intervention level as indicated by their offending needs
    • an overview of protective factors, at the individual, family and community levels
    • responsive case planning for health, developmental or special needs
    • a current offence analysis
    • a written assessment, summary and plan
    • an evidence based, targeted management plan.
  • The Victorian youth justice case management framework follows the five basic principles of good practice for offender rehabilitation:
    • risk  the identification of level of risk through risk assessment and subsequent matching of clients to the most appropriate level of intervention
    • needs – the identification and targeting of criminogenic needs that are most directly linked to the offending and the likelihood of reoffending.
    • responsivity – matching interventions to the individual considering the characteristics, capability, developmental stage and motivation of the individual
    • integrity – having systems in place to monitor that interventions are being delivered consistently and as they are designed to be delivered
    • professional discretion – professional discretion allows for workers to use discretion in decision-making if there are individual characteristics or situations that impact on the assessment outcome.

Roles and key tasks

Case manager

  • Conduct assessment of young person’s needs and areas requiring intervention, utilising a care team approach.
  • Complete client assessment/VONIY.
  • Convene a client service plan meeting with the young person.
  • Support and undertake planning based on client assessment and plan.
  • Complete the client service plan.
  • Implement required intervention and undertake reviews of the client service plan.

Team leader / team manager

  • Provide consultation and supervision to case manager.
  • Endorse assessments and client service plans.
  • Chair client service plan and client service plan review meetings.

Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support

Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice service.

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

  • Provide case consultation and dispute resolution in cases of disagreement between custodial services and area youth justice. This should occur subject to local area agreements between assistant director/manager Individual Family Support and the Senior Practice Advisor.

The procedure in detail

Key performance indicators

The first client service plan for each Client Relationship Information System (CRIS) case must be completed within six weeks.

The client service plan due date is automatically generated within CRIS and included in the allocated worker's CRIS work list.

This date is a key performance indicator for youth justice.

Client service plans need to be signed off by the team leader and must be put through to their work list two days before the due date.

Worker responsible for the Client Assessment and Plan

The Client Assessment and Plan is completed by the youth justice case manager in the community, or in a custodial centre by the key worker in collaboration with the unit coordinator.

For young people in custody, the unit coordinator and key worker must ensure that the area case manager is involved in all aspects of the case assessment and planning process, and is kept informed of any significant issues or incidents relating to the young person.

The area case manager must share any knowledge regarding the young person, to inform case assessment and planning, and to ensure parole planning is consistent with the client assessment and plan.

Refer to procedure for 'Working with youth justice custodial services' for more information.

A client assessment and plan is completed for all sentenced clients and is not required for young people who are on remand, supervised bail, deferral of sentencing or subject to a pre-sentence report.

The VONIY was formerly a standalone document that was completed together with the client assessment. It is now fully integrated with the client assessment document completed on CRIS.

Stages of client assessment and planning

The stages of the client assessment and plan process are as follows:

  • Undertake early assessment phase.
  • Complete client assessment on CRIS.
  • Prepare the assessment summary.
  • Complete the client service plan.
  • Obtain endorsement of assessment and client by team leader within six weeks of start of order and send to team leader's CRIS worklist at least two days before it is due.
  • Review and update the client service plan every three months.
  • Review client assessment and plan upon further offending.
  • Review assessment summary before expiry of the order, before release from custody, at 12 months into the order, or as a result of significant change in client's life.

Stage 1: Early assessment phase

The client assessment/VONIY is an internal document that guides supervisory practice. It is not to be completed with the young person present or discussed with them.

It is incorporated into the client assessment completed for each young person on CRIS.

Tell the young person that the purpose of the assessment and the goal of their service plan is to reduce their risk of reoffending.

Where possible, do not unnecessarily subject the young person to undue questioning and reassessment.

If a pre-sentence report has been prepared or the young person is known to youth justice, use recorded information and confirm details with the young person.

Confidentiality, disclosure and accessing information from other sources

Discuss confidentiality and limitations to confidentiality. Tell the young person that information provided could be included in a report.

Provide the young person with a copy of ‘Your personal information – information for young people receiving youth justice services document’.

This can be found as an appendix in the Protocol between child protection and youth justice 2013.

Providing this notice will allow for the collection, use, disclosure and storage of the young person’s personal and health information.

Confirm accuracy of information from other sources and note these in the 'sources of information' table in CRIS.

Refer to procedure for 'Privacy and information exchange' for more information on accessing/sharing information and limitations of confidentiality.

Stage 2: Completing the Client Assessment and Plan/VONIY on CRIS

The client assessment and plan is generated automatically in CRIS when the court order details are entered.

The client assessment and plan is divided into four main assessment sections plus the assessment summary:

  • youth offending
  • protective factors
  • special needs
  • offence-related factors
  • assessment summary.

Specialist assessment or service

Ensure any court-ordered special conditions, or any assessment areas that need further assessment or intervention from a professional or community-based service, are immediately followed up and considered as part of the client service planning process.

Where there is disagreement or other difficulties concerning recommendations in an assessment report, discuss the recommendations with the specialist and team leader.

A further assessment may be sought from another clinician where this is deemed appropriate.

For high-risk young people, consultation with Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support and Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor should also occur.


Note any warnings or concerns regarding medical, psychological factors, self-harm or suicidal behaviour in the alerts table on CRIS.

Where immediate health-related or developmental concerns are identified, consult immediately with the team leader about referral for specialist assessment.

VONIY intervention levels

The total score from areas covered by the youth offending section of the client assessment/VONIY gives an overall indicator of the intervention level needed to address the young person's risk of reoffending.

Levels of intervention are low, moderate, high and intensive.

For young people whose offending needs are on the high or intensive levels, plan for them to participate in CHART for the duration of their order, and organise for additional programs that focus on their specific needs.

There is no low intervention level for 10 to 14 year-olds due to their higher risk and needs from early entry into the criminal justice system.

Professional override of VONIY intervention level

In some cases, the nature of the offence requires an intensive level of intervention, even when the client scores low in youth offending.

For example, sex offences and offences resulting in death automatically go to intensive via professional override.

If there is significant information (positive or negative) that is not adequately reflected in the offending profile, seek approval from the team leader to override the scored level for a higher level of intervention.

If the intervention level is altered, document the reasons in the assessment summary.

Stage 3: Assessment summary

Use information from the four assessment sections of the client assessment and plan to build a concise, evidence-based, individual profile of the young person in the assessment summary.

Information contained in the assessment summary should inform the goals and tasks for the client service plan and be discussed with the young person in preparing for the client service plan.

Identify targets for intervention in assessment summary

Higher scores in the client assessment/VONIY help to identify areas that need to be addressed through casework.

Without stating the VONIY score in the assessment summary, prioritise the most important targets for intervention based on the scores and include special conditions as well as urgent and longer-term issues.

Specify other agencies involved and referrals considered necessary.

Stage 4: Client service planning – intervention levels informing casework

The four-level framework for rehabilitation is the basis for the casework to support the client assessment/VONIY.

Each intervention level builds on the one before, so activities outlined in the low intervention level are replicated for the other levels.

These are:

  • low intervention level – focus on sentence administration, special conditions and health /support needs for young people aged 15–20 years
  • moderate intervention level – focus on social integration, build protective factors, complete core modules of the CHART program
  • high intervention level – offence-focused programs, challenge offending behaviour, build external controls and supports, complete CHART
  • intensive intervention level – for serious and/or persistent offenders, refer and/or facilitate engagement in assessments, specialist interventions and treatment.

Involving the young person and their family/supports in client service plan

A care team approach between youth justice, community agencies, other relevant supports and professionals is a key feature of the support and case management of all young people.

Refer to the procedure for 'Youth justice care teams' for more information.

Use information gathered during the assessment phase to engage the young person, their parent/s or carers and other key support people, to identify goals, interventions and activities to address their assessed needs.

Convene a client service plan meeting with all parties present to discuss these goals, interventions and relevant responsibilities and document the outcome in the client service plan.

In formulating the client service plan, seek the young person's active contribution.

Involve the young person in setting the goals of the client service plan, which must include strategies for implementing any special conditions attached to the order.

Take a positive, solution-focused and collaborative approach:

  • use motivational interviewing to engage the young person
  • support the young person to recognise risk factors
  • recognise triggers for offending
  • develop relapse prevention strategies
  • focus on solutions and set goals for change.

Regardless of the level of the young person's cooperation, accountability for practice remains with youth justice.

At the client service planning meeting, the agreed goals and strategies of the plan are signed by the young person, the worker and the meeting chair. In most cases the chair will be the team leader.

Encourage the young person to sign their CSP to show they agree with the planned objectives.

The act of signing reinforces a partnership approach to clearly stated goals and actions.

While a young person may not agree to all recorded goals in the plan and choose not to sign, the plan proceeds with or without the young person's signature.

Provide a copy of the CSP to the young person. If the young person is younger than 15 years, also provide a copy to the guardian.

Non-participant client service plan

When, despite efforts to engage them, a young person remains unwilling to be involved in the client service plan process, a non-participant client service plan can be completed.

This can be recorded in CRIS on the client service plan screen by checking the non-participant tick box.

Non-participant client service plans also need to be completed within six weeks of the young person receiving an order and put to the team leader work list two days before the due date.

Identifying goals in client service plan

The client service plan must contain details of the tasks/actions to be implemented during the life of the order, based on the required areas of intervention identified in the VONIY.

The goals determine the nature of case management and supervision, and the the types of intervention to be implemented for the young person. Therefore, the goals, timelines and roles should be developed collaboratively, and be achievable, measurable and subject to review.

Explain to the young person that the goals of a client service plan are:

  • to identify factors that contributed to their offending behaviour
  • to minimise risk to the community
  • to implement a plan to address identified risk factors
  • to assist the young person to effectively manage their life without reoffending.

Discuss the key criminogenic needs identified through the assessment and rate the importance of areas when planning the order of tasks in casework.

Help the young person to assume responsibility for their life and actions, and ensure the plan is:

  • fair, evidence-based and prioritised
  • responsive to the specific needs of the young person
  • responsive to court and community expectations
  • includes an implementation plan for any special conditions.

Stage 5: Signing off

The youth justice worker and team leader signs off the client assessment/VONIY and plan which includes the client service plan.

Original signed documents are attached to the young person's paper file and electronic versions in CRIS.

The young person and the youth justice worker are both required to sign the completed client service plan.

Stage 6: Client service plan review

The CSP must be reviewed and updated every 12 weeks.

This is a review of the plan only, not the overarching assessment.

Note any new information, significant changes or events in the young person's life that have an impact on casework.

Review previously set goals and assess if these goals have been achieved and if they are still relevant.

Document how the young person has progressed towards achieving set goals, address any special conditions and highlight future agreed goals.

Encourage the young person to sign the client service plan review.

Stage 7–8: Review of the Client Assessment and Plan/VONIY

A review of the client assessment/VONIY is undertaken at the following times:

  • prior to expiry of the order or release on remission, as the closure or termination report part of the closure stage of service delivery
  • prior to release on parole as part of the pre-release planning
  • where a worker considers a reassessment is necessary due to significant changes or events
  • every 12 months
  • following sentencing on a new order.

When the review of the VONIY and assessment summary is undertaken, update the client service plan to reflect the new assessment information.

Refer to procedure for 'Case management framework' for more information.

Transition planning before case closure

Towards the completion of the order, ensure that any ongoing supports, referrals or appointments to services or professionals that the young person will continue to require have been arranged prior to case closure.

To ensure that the closure stage of service delivery is positive, youth justice should:

  • Involve the young person in transition planning.
  • Plan linkages with external agencies and support services that will continue after the conclusion of the youth justice order.
  • Recognise the young person's achievement in completing the court order and give them the opportunity to reflect on the purpose of the order and their progress.
  • Make sure the young person knows where they can go if in crisis. Give the them an emergency contact list.
  • Unless there are pending court matters, complete an end order client assessment/VONIY leading up to the completion of the order rather than when all orders are expired. The end order client assessment/VONIY must be endorsed by the team leader.

Refer to procedure for 'Case closure' for more information.

Release of Information

The client assessment/VONIY is a confidential document and is an internal case management tool only. It is to be treated as a restricted document. It is not for release or to be discussed with the young person or other parties.

Information contained in the assessment summary may be referred to in meetings with the young person, or for the preparation of reports, but not attached to reports.

The assessment summary can be provided on request to court or the Youth Parole Board. It could also be provided to Youth Justice Community Support Services only as part of a referral.

It cannot be provided to any other agencies or services unless through a formal legal request process.

The client service plan forms the basis for case management and is distributed to the young person, family members and key professionals at the team leader's discretion.

Refer to the procedure for 'Privacy and information exchange' for more detailed information about release of information and the limitations of confidentiality.