This procedure outlines the warning process for young people failing to comply with the requirements of their court order.

 

When to use this procedure

When a young person is failing to comply with the conditions of their court order.

 

What else you need to know

 

Practice context and legislation

  • When the court places a young person on a community based order, it is making a statement based in law that it is unacceptable for the young person to reoffend, and that they are required to comply with the conditions of the order.
  • Youth justice workers supervise the young person's compliance with the court order.
  • If a young person fails to comply with the requirements of their order, or displays behaviours that cause serious concern, a warning process will be commenced.
  • The warning process aims to influence the young person to comply with the requirements of the order, behave appropriately and avoid breach action.
  • This gives the young person a reminder to respond in an appropriate and positive way.
  • There is capacity for some discretion and flexibility in managing the warning process.
  • The incremental structure of warnings takes into account varying levels of adolescent maturity and supports learning in a series of steps that reinforce responsible behaviour.
  • The warning process starts with the youth justice worker and escalates to the coordinator and manager as required.
  • The purposes of conducting warnings include:
    • reminding the young person of the legal consequences for failing to comply with an order issued by the court
    • informing the young person of the possible consequences of unacceptable behaviours
    • discussing with the young person their behaviour and/or reasons why they have not met the requirements of the order
    • reinforcing responsible behaviours
    • hearing, from a young person, what assistance they require to comply with the statutory requirements of their order.
  • The warning process is an opportunity for the case manager and team leader to develop a plan, with the young person, to support the young person to improve their compliance.
  • It is also a chance to discuss ways for the young person to be more responsible and change behaviours.
  • If a young person's behaviour causes serious concern, the warning process can be used to discuss the impact these behaviours may be having on their lives and on other people.
  • Flexibility is critical. The decision to initiate a breach is usually made as a last resort and only after all steps of the warning process have been considered.
  • Steps in the process, however, may be skipped or repeated depending on each individual case, taking into account:
    • order type
    • type and seriousness of the offence or behaviour
    • risk of the young person reoffending as measured by the assessment / Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY)
    • the young person's current stability and circumstances
    • level of functioning or maturity
    • stage of the order
    • previous performance and/or response to previous warnings
    • performance in other areas, such as participation in programs and meeting special conditions
    • young person's attitude
    • time elapsed since implementation of any previous warning processes.
 

Roles and key tasks

Youth justice case manager

  • Monitor compliance with core conditions.
  • Implement and monitor special conditions.
  • Initiate warning and breach process as necessary.
  • Consult with team leader, manager and Youth Justice Senior Practice Adviser where required.

Team leader / team manager

  • Provide consultation and supervision to case manager.
  • Issue coordinator's warnings and authorise breach action.

Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support

  • Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice program.
  • Provide case consultation regarding warnings, breaches and young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours.
  • Issue manager's warnings and authorise breach action where appropriate.

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

Provide case consultation regarding warnings, breaches and young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours. This should occur subject to local area agreements between Assistant Director / Manager Individual Family Support and the Senior Practice Advisor.

 

The procedure in detail

Before implementing the warning process

It is important that the young person understands the expectations of their court order and the need to engage with youth justice.

They must also be supported to comply with their order.

This includes attempting to conduct outreach appointments to engage the young person, scheduling appointments via letter, and reminding young people of their appointments if necessary.

Record all contact and attempts to contact the young person in Client Relationship Information System (CRIS).

If all such attempts have failed, consideration must be given to implementing the warning process.

The team leader must be consulted before initiating the warning process.

Consult with the team leader if the young person:

  • has not reported at the youth justice unit
  • has missed a scheduled appointment
  • has intermittently missed appointments without reasonable explanation
  • has not attended specialist service appointments and/or programs that are a condition of the order
  • has failed to comply with core or special conditions of the order
  • has displayed unacceptable behaviours that are violent, intimidating or attending appointments substance affected
  • has displayed other behaviours that are causing serious concern.

During supervision sessions, youth justice workers should discuss with their team leader any escalation in a young person's non-attendance or unacceptable behaviours and plan the response to be taken.

The decision to commence the warning process should be made in consultation with the team leader.

Excusing young people for missing appointments

A young person may miss a scheduled appointment for a valid reason – namely illness substantiated by medical certificate, or participation in another approved activity.

In these circumstances, subject to discussion with the young person, it is appropriate to attempt to schedule an alternative appointment time for the same week, with another worker if necessary.

Outreach should be considered as a means of facilitating attendance in these circumstances.

If it is not possible to schedule another appointment time for that week, the young person may be excused from attending, subject to team leader approval.

This is only appropriate in cases of substantiated illness, participation in another approved activity, or other exceptional circumstances.

This appointment should be included in the 'Attendance' screen on CRIS, with the reason for non-attendance listed as 'Excused with approval'.

This should also be documented in a case note, indicating the approval of the team leader.

It is important to consider a young person's compliance in the context of their overall circumstances, particularly any welfare, health and developmental concerns.

Plans developed with the young person to help improve their compliance must take these factors into account, to ensure the young person is not unduly penalised for addressing other issues.

Case manager absence is not an appropriate reason for excusing a young person from supervision.

In these circumstances, the case manager should organise another worker to see the young person, in the existing appointment time.

If this can't be accommodated, an alternative appointment time, with the case manager or another case manager, should be scheduled for that week.

Failure to attend supervision without a valid reason

Where a young person fails to attend an appointment without prior notice or without providing a valid reason, the youth justice worker must initiate telephone or personal contact reminding them of the conditions of the order and to set an appointment time for the following week.

The appointment for that week is deemed a failure to attend without a valid reason and should be documented as such in CRIS.

In the case of a second consecutive missed appointment, the worker should issue an informal verbal warning to the young person.

This should be used to remind the young person of the conditions of their order, and advise the young person that further non-compliance will result in the initiation of the warning process.

Where a young person misses a third consecutive appointment, consultation on initiating the warning process should occur between the case manager and appropriate line manager.

This should also occur if a young person displays a pattern of non-attendance over a number of weeks. For example, missing four appointments over a six-week period.

Lawful instruction and direction

Before initiating the warning process, the worker may issue a lawful direction to the young person, instructing them to comply with the relevant condition of their order.

The decision for a lawful instruction or direction will be based on assessment and discussion with the team leader, and can be considered as the first step in the warning process.

Case managers can issue a lawful direction to the young person, specifically indicating which conditions they are being lawfully directed to comply with.

A lawful direction should be issued in writing, using the standard letter document in CRIS, with specific reference to issuing a reasonable and lawful instruction under s 381(1)(f) of the Children Youth and Families Act 2005.

It may also be reasonable to lawfully instruct and/or direct a young person who is in need of a service, but does not have the relevant special condition attached to their order.

Coordinator's warning

When the decision is made to initiate the warning process, the young person should be advised that they will be receiving their first formal (coordinator's) warning from the team leader or, where a team leader is not available, the case manager.

The young person should be notified of every warning in writing.

Prior to the coordinator's warning, the case manager is required to complete the managers/coordinator's warning document in CRIS, outlining the reasons for the warning, specifying the dates of missed appointments or reoffending where appropriate.

During the coordinator's warning the case manager, or team leader with case manager present, reiterates the conditions of the young person's order and explains the reason for the warning.

The young person is given the opportunity to explain the reasons for their noncompliance, and say what is hindering them from complying with their order.

There should be a discussion between all parties about how the young person can be best supported to address these issues and comply with their order.

When the young person understands the warning, it should be signed by all parties, and placed on the young person's file.

Tell the young person that the warning may be used in court as evidence.

After the first coordinator's warning

Immediately after a warning, consult with your line manager about the number of further failed appointments that will be allowed before another warning is issued.

This decision should take into consideration the young person's circumstances, the risk they currently present to themselves and the community, their attitude in the warning meeting, and their ability to comply with the order.

This process should occur after each warning, and the agreed expectations should be communicated to the young person. Document all agreed expectations in CRIS.

In the absence of a specific agreement, the expectation is that progression to the next warning will occur after the young person misses a further three consecutive appointments, or displays a pattern of non-attendance over a number of weeks.

After the second coordinator's warning

If there is further non-compliance after the second coordinator's warning, consult with the team leader or team manager, and Assistant Director or Manager Individual and Family Support about issuing a manager's warning.

It may be appropriate to issue a third coordinator's warning, but this decision should not be made without consultation with the Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support or Youth Justice Senior Practice Adviser.

The manager's warning is to be issued by the Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support.

A manager's warning should be conducted in a similar manner to a coordinator's warning, but with particular emphasis on the escalation up the warning hierarchy and the consequences of further non-compliance – that is, possible return to court for breach.

After the manager's warning

If a young person continues to display non-compliance after the manager's warning, it is appropriate for the case manager, team leader or team manager, and Assistant Director or Manager Individual and Family Support to discuss initiating the breach process.

The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 makes provision to return young people subject to a probation order (s. 384), a youth supervision order (s. 392) or youth attendance order (s. 408) to court if it appears that they have failed to comply with any conditions, or amended conditions of the order.

Refer to 'Breach of a supervised order' for more information.

When considering whether to breach for non-compliance, take into account the following factors:

  • assessment of risk
  • the number of warnings and the length of time lapsed between each warning
  • the general attitude and response of the young person to the order and/or the warning process
  • any positives displayed by the young person that can be built upon to help them complete their order
  • any circumstances that might have had an impact on the young person's behaviour or non-attendance
  • any further charges
  • the young person's capacity to comply with the expectations of the order
  • whether the young person has enough support to facilitate their compliance.

The warning process outlined above can also be implemented in relation to non-compliance with special conditions.

Manager's warning for unacceptable behaviour

Inappropriate behaviour should be dealt with immediately. A manager's warning should be given:

  • when a young person is rude or abusive to staff, members of the public or other young people while attending any location in relation to the requirements of the order
  • when a young person is verbally or physically violent or intimidating while attending any location in relation to the requirements of the order
  • when the young person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while attending any location in relation to the requirements of the order
  • when a young person carries weapons.

Manager's warning in lieu of a breach for minor offences

A manager's warning can be requested in lieu of a breach of an order if:

  • the offence that constitutes the breach is minor
  • the young person has made positive progress, and complied with the requirements of the order
  • the order is nearing completion
  • the young person is responsive to youth justice directives.

The decision to conduct a manager's warning in lieu of breach action for minor offences is at the discretion of the Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support, after consultation with the team leader / team manager. Please refer to the procedure for 'Breach of a supervised order' for more information.

Record all information and decisions

All informal counselling and warnings given to a young person are relevant and should be documented in CRIS. All formal warnings are also to be recorded as a warning in the attendance record of CRIS.

Record in CRIS case notes all reasons for actions taken and by whom, as well as future expectations that have been outlined to a young person.

When a verbal or written warning is given to a young person, it must be witnessed and signed. The original is placed on file and a copy given to the young person. Information relating to the warning process may be required at court when proving a breach.