This procedure includes instructions for completing the Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY) assessment tool.


When to use this procedure

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


What else you need to know

Make sure you have read and understood the following procedures:


Practice context and legislation

  • The Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY) is an assessment tool that provides an individual profile of each young person.
  • It is designed to help identify a young person's likelihood of reoffending, and to organise interventions that will maximise the chances of rehabilitation.
  • VONIY is based on international best practice principles for effective offender rehabilitation.
  • The VONIY was formerly a standalone document that was completed together with the client assessment. It has now been fully integrated with the client assessment document completed on CRIS.
  • The client assessment / VONIY determines the level and focus for intervention for the young person's reoffending risk. Intervention levels are low, moderate, high and intensive.
  • The client assessment and plan, and therefore the VONIY, must be completed for each young person on a supervised youth justice sentencing order. This does not include supervised bail, deferral of sentencing or remand.
  • The client assessment / VONIY is a tool for internal use by youth justice workers only. Do not complete it with the young person present, or discuss it with the young person.
  • Information contained in the assessment summary may be discussed with the young person in preparing for the client service plan.
  • Refer to the ‘Guide to Victorian youth justice client assessment and planning’ June 2011 for more information.

Roles and key tasks

Case manager

  • Conduct assessment of young person's needs and areas needing intervention, using a care team approach.
  • Complete client assessment / VONIY and reviews.
  • Convene a client service plan meeting with the young person and supports and undertake planning based on client assessment.
  • 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 program.

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


The client assessment provides information and evidence for the completion of the VONIY.

The VONIY should be completed during the assessment phase of the order (start order assessment on CRIS) and reviewed at:

  • expiry of the order (end order assessment)
  • prior to release from custody (during order assessment)
  • at 12 months into the order (during order assessment), or
  • as a result of significant change in the young person's life (during order assessment).

Prior to a young person's release from custody, a 'during order assessment' should be prepared by the community based case manager to inform the development of the parole plan and case management in the community.

The four parts of the VONIY are:

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

Documents to support the preparation of the client assessment / VONIY

The ‘Guide to Victorian youth justice client assessment and planning June 2011’

is the definitive guide to completing the client assessment / VONIY. There are also supporting documents that may help you at different stages of the VONIY.

When conducting interviews and gathering information to complete your assessment, refer to the 'Assessment notes: Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY)' document.

This document can be taken into interviews and contains specific prompts to address the sections of the client assessment / VONIY.

When completing the VONIY on CRIS, refer to the 'Guide to completing the start order assessment', 'Guide to completing the end order assessment' and the 'Descriptors for Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY)' documents.

The guides explain what to enter into the free text sections. The descriptors document relates to the checkboxes and 'yes/no' sections that appear throughout CRIS

Updating the VONIY for a young person already on an order

If a young person is already subject to a supervised court order and receives a further youth justice order:

  • update the youth offending and offence-related factors to reflect the new offences and order review, confirm and update any other identified changes
  • record where a significant event occurs that may impact on the level of intervention.

When a young person receives a custodial sentence, the key custodial worker refers to the client assessment / VONIY on CRIS that relates to the community based order.

The custodial key worker consults with their unit coordinator and the area youth justice case manager, to determine whether a full assessment review is undertaken.

It is the custodial key worker's responsibility to update the client assessment / VONIY and coordinate this process.

If at the time of admission to a youth justice centre, the young person is not subject to a community-based order, no client assessment / VONIY will be available on CRIS. It is the responsibility of the custodial key worker to complete the client assessment / VONIY.

Prior to the young person's release from custody the custodial key worker in consultation with the regional youth justice worker completes the client assessment / VONIY as part of the pre-release and parole process.

When the client assessment / VONIY is completed at remission and there are no current community-based orders, then the review of the client assessment / VONIY will be undertaken by the custodial key worker.

VONIY – youth offending

Youth offending covers seven areas, these are:

  • offending profile
  • family circumstances
  • accommodation and finance
  • substance use
  • education, training and employment
  • peer relationships and community linkages
  • attitudes and behaviours.

Items in these areas are checked as either present or absent and recorded as follows: yes = 1, no = 0.

Complete this section with reference to the 'Descriptors for Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY)' document.

Record additional information in the evidence box to show sources. Record any key information not reflected in the scoring.

The total score from areas covered by youth offending gives an overall indicator of the intervention level required to address the young person's offending needs appropriate to their risk of reoffending.

VONIY – intervention levels

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

Regard levels as cumulative, with sentence administration as a baseline for all young people.

For young people whose offending needs are high, organise for additional programs that focus on areas of the young person's specific needs.

Note: 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.

In some cases, the nature of the offence requires an intensive level of intervention, even when the young person scores low in youth offending. For example sex offences and offences resulting in death automatically go to intensive via professional override.

If significant information is known (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.

Document the reasons for any change to the intervention level.

VONIY protective factors

Protective factors provide useful information for casework to build on by identifying strengths and positives in the young person's life.

The lack of protective factors can indicate major welfare concerns and social disconnection. Factors that protect against involvement in youth crime are grouped as:

  • individual
  • family
  • community.

Protective factors are scored, but for information only, as research is unclear about the exact relationship between protective factors and reoffending risk.

When assessing protective factors, the assessment of each factor identifies where it has a positive effect.

Factors are only scored if present to the degree detailed in 'Descriptors for Victorian Offending Needs Indicator'.

VONIY – special needs

Special needs are characteristics or significant needs that require a tailored response or referral for specialist assessment and support.


Special needs cover two areas: demographics, and health and developmental needs.

Demographics include:

  • young women
  • clients aged 10–14 year olds
  • child protection client
  • disability services client
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • culturally and linguistically diverse background
  • parenthood.

Health and developmental needs include:

  • risk of self-harm or suicide
  • mental health
  • cognitive functioning
  • developmental level
  • poor literacy and/or numeracy
  • health issues.

VONIY offence-related factors

These factors examine offending related to the young person's current order and factors impacting on offending behaviour.

Key issues include the young person's attitude regarding their accountability and victim awareness.

This part of the VONIY identifies particular offences or offending-related issues to be addressed as part of case management.

Offence analysis are factors directly related to current offending such as:

  • impulsive or planned
  • violent or a particular offence type, such as, arson or drug trafficking
  • whether influenced by peers or family problems
  • whether the young person's offending pattern has changed; that is, offending has increased in severity, seriousness and/or in frequency.

Attitudes (regarding current offence/s) and skills:

  • denial of responsibility for the offence
  • lack of victim awareness, and motivation to change
  • absence of basic skills in problem-solving and practical living skills, and the young person is poorly equipped to cope independently.

Assessment summary / development of plan

Information from the assessment/VONIY is used to build an evidence-based, individual profile of the young person in the written assessment summary.

This section should reflect an assessment of a young person's intervention needs. It is not simply a chronological account of facts.

The facts regarding the young person's circumstances and needs should be used to inform the assessment summary and, consequently, the development of the plan.

When recording information:

  • use plain language
  • write in a clear structured way
  • if desired use dot points
  • record no more than two pages that makes sense of the young person's situation.

Staff input provides meaningful information relating to the young person's current and future situation such as:

  • whether the young person's offending is increasing in frequency or severity
  • if the young person has a short or long history in youth justice
  • escalation of drug use
  • major concerns about welfare and lack of protective factors in the young person's life
  • whether the young person is reluctant to address issues and access community help.

The most important targets for intervention are to be prioritised in the assessment summary.

Higher scores identify areas that are a priority to be included in the client service plan and addressed through casework.

Include urgent and longer-term concerns as targets for intervention.

Relate historical information to the young person's current and future situation.

Other comments may include the young person's level of motivation, capacity to complete the order and any special conditions.

Specify other agencies involvement with the young person and referrals considered necessary.

When appropriate seek the team leader's approval to over-ride to a different intervention level. Give professional reasons for the over-ride.

Using the assessment summary in reports

The assessment summary can be used to inform reports to external bodies. It includes:

  • offences and type, length and expiry date of order
  • intervention level indicated (do not include the youth offending score)
  • youth offending – note areas of high need from the offending profile, family circumstances, accommodation and finance, substance use, education, training and employment, peer relationships, community linkages and attitudes and behaviours
  • protective factors identify the presence or lack of individual, family, or community supports
  • special needs to respond to through case work or specialist referral
  • offence-related factors to inform the focus of casework.

Additional information