Use these guidelines for the assessment and risk management of youth justice young people living in rental housing properties.
When to use this procedure
When supervising young people living in a rental property.
What else you need to know
Practice context and legislation
- Youth justice young people may need support to access stable accommodation to prevent or reduce the risk of long-term homelessness.
- Supporting young people to find accommodation that reflects their changing physical, social and emotional needs helps to manage risk in the community.
- Living in stable accommodation allows the young person to develop independent living skills, community connections and self-confidence. This may minimise risks that contribute to continued homelessness, reoffending and return to custodial facilities.
- Youth justice has a duty of care to both the young person and to the community.
- Youth justice young people, especially when exiting youth justice custodial precincts, frequently have difficulty securing accommodation and stable living arrangements.
- Young people with multiple or complex needs, an offending history and high-risk behaviours have fewer housing options. For both statutory youth justice staff and community support workers, risk management is a critical part of client assessment and planning for young people living in rental housing.
- Client assessment and service planning determines:
- accommodation options and/or preferences
- what living arrangements are the most appropriate for the young person.
- Risk management planning identifies:
- special needs that increase the young person's vulnerability and complexity
- the supports and/or resources needed for the young person to maintain and manage their living arrangements
- duty of care to the young person and the community.
- Emergency, short- and long-term accommodation is provided by a range of specialist services. Assistance for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is provided through funded programs including the Supported Accommodation and Assistance Program and the Transitional Housing Management program. These services are provided by a variety of community service organisations across Victoria.
- The Transitional Housing Management – Youth Justice Housing Pathways Initiative is a post-release accommodation and support initiative to improve housing outcomes for young people leaving youth justice precincts, and other young people in the youth justice system who have a history or high risk of homelessness.
- There are two components of the Youth Justice Housing Pathways Initiative:
- a housing and support component that provides transitional housing properties and support for eligible young people
- a homelessness assistance service that provides specialist housing information and referral for young people 15 years and over who cannot access dedicated accommodation and support.
Roles and key tasks
- Youth justice case manager
- Team leader / team manager
- Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support
- Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor
Youth justice case manager
- Provide case management and supervision.
- Implement and monitor special conditions.
- Initiate warning and breach processes as necessary.
Team leader / team manager
- Provide consultation and supervision to case manager.
- Issue warnings and authorise breach action as necessary.
Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support
- Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice service.
- Provide case consultation about court recommendations, breaches and young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours.
Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor
- Provide case consultation about court recommendations, breaches and young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours. This should occur subject to local area agreements between Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support and the Senior Practice Advisor.
The procedure in detail
- Assessment for independent living arrangements
- Complexity of needs
- Risk management planning
- Planning for the safety of young people
- Working with other professionals
- Neighbourly behaviour policy
- Risks to the community
- Agency support provider access to property key
- Guidelines for property access
- Concerns for safety of the young person
- Entering the property – agency support provider
- After-hours access
- Practical assistance
Assessment for independent living arrangements
Take into account the following considerations when determining a young person's suitability for independent living in a rental property:
- the young person's age and developmental stage
- their independent living skills and ability to live independently with the level of support available
- type of offences committed, particularly arson, sex and violent offences
- factors that have contributed to their housing crisis
- complexity of needs.
Complexity of needs
Use information from the Victorian Offending Needs Indicator for Youth (VONIY) assessment to determine the level of intervention required and the young person's particular needs, which may increase their vulnerability.
Young people with special and complex needs include those:
- with a history or current child protection involvement
- with an intellectual disability or acquired brain injury
- who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- who are a refugee or asylum seeker
- who are a parent.
Complexity of needs in relation to health and development include those young people with:
- self-harm and suicide risk
- mental health disorders, especially depression
- drug and alcohol abuse
- other health issues, including neurological disorders such as epilepsy, and physical or sensory disabilities.
Also refer to the 'Protective factors' section in the VONIY to identify what strengths and supports exist in the young person's life, as these may provide some counter-balance against the complexity of needs.
Risk management planning
Based on the VONIY assessment and other available information, you will be able to make a more informed decision about the young person's particular needs and their coping skills for living in a rental property.
Discuss with the team leader the outcome of this information gathering to determine whether the young person is suitable to live independently.
To manage any identified risks, discuss with the team leader what supports, referrals and resources that need to be put in place to help the young person manage their accommodation.
Also consider whether the young person is more suited to a single or dual occupancy arrangement or whether an alternative type of accommodation would be more appropriate for the young person.
These considerations should be discussed with the young person before a decision is made for them to move into a property.
Planning for the safety of young people
In conjunction with the relevant housing or support worker, discuss any safety concerns with the young person.
Document a plan to address identified risks and to increase the young person's confidence and safety.
If required, ensure the young person is linked to an appropriate drug treatment and/or mental health service.
Provide access to relevant alcohol and drug information and education, and discuss harm-minimisation strategies before the young person moves in.
Discuss issues associated with access to the rental housing property. Tell the young person that emergency access will be gained to a property, with the assistance of the police, if there is sufficient reason to suspect the young person might be injured or unwell.
Record on Client Relationship Information System (CRIS) contact details of the young person's friends, family or next of kin. Tell the young person their next of kin will be contacted if workers are concerned for their safety.
As required, arrange for regular contact times with the young person, for example, the young person is to contact a nominated person once a day.
Ensure the young person has a list of emergency contact numbers (including after hours contacts such as police and Lifeline) and has access to a working phone.
Tell the young person that Transitional Housing Management may submit, by hand, a 24-hour notice to enter a property if the case manager is concerned about the wellbeing of the occupant.
Working with other professionals
The young person's safety, stability and development is a responsibility of the whole community and shared by those government and community agencies that provide support to the young person.
For management of complex young people, a case coordination or care team should be established to address the practical needs and monitor the young person's safety.
The youth justice case manager must ensures regular care team meetings occur.
Refer to procedures for 'Youth justice care teams' and 'Youth Justice Community Support Service' for more information.
Neighbourly behaviour policy
Young people living in public housing must sign a statement of neighbourly behaviour, which all public housing tenants sign.
This statement outlines the responsibilities of tenants, including paying rent on time, respecting public housing properties and respecting their neighbour's right to peace, comfort and privacy.
These responsibilities are part of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Please refer to New directions for social housing: a framework for a strong and sustainable future and theNeighbourly behaviour statement for more information.
Risks to the community
The Department of Human Services has non-delegable obligations to take reasonable care of statutory young people.
The department also has responsibility regarding community safety.
If a young person has a significant and recent history of arson, sex and/or violent offences, and the young person is being accommodated by a transitional housing management service or public housing office, the worker has an obligation to inform the service provider of these offending behaviours.
Consider risk to the community by taking into account:
- the frequency of serious offences and how recent they were
- specialist advice from other professionals including Youth Health and Rehabilitation Service and Male Adolescent Program for Positive Sexuality staff
- information from the VONIY, particularly victim awareness, attitudes and beliefs relating to offending behaviour, and any emerging issues that will influence the young person's stability.
Based on the above, you will be able to make a more informed decision about the young person's risk to the community and what interventions are required to reduce the risks they may pose.
Discuss this information with your team leader the outcome of this information.
If there are concerns about risks to the community, you should consult with your team leader or team manager.
Agency support provider access to property key
Ensure the young person is informed of their rights to privacy in their rented housing property.
Tell them that if they choose, they can make an agreement for the agency support provider to hold a key to the rental housing property for emergency access.
This is an agreement solely between the young person and the agency support provider. Transitional Housing Management has no involvement.
Inform the young person that providing a key to an agency support provider is completely voluntary. If they choose not to provide a key, this will not impact in any way their access to supported accommodation under the program.
If the young person chooses to allocate a key, they must sign a 'Consent to access property' form giving the agency support provider permission to hold a key to the property in the event of an emergency.
Provide a copy of the signed consent form to the agency support provider, clearly stating that this is an arrangement between the young person and the support worker.
The property key must be stored in a secure location and signed in and out as required by the appointed support worker, with agreement of their manager.
Responsibilities for these arrangements rest with the agency support provider and do not impact upon the terms of the tenancy agreement between the young person and Transitional Housing Management as property and tenancy manager.
Guidelines for property access
There are now uniform guidelines operating in Victoria that relate to property access, and the availability of keys to rental properties for workers.
These can be found in section 4.2.9 in the Homelessness Services Guidelines and Conditions of Funding.
The guidelines provide a process for assisted emergency access to rental Transitional Housing Management properties by police, housing workers and, where young person's consent for key access has been given, to an allocated agency support worker.
The Office of Housing is unable to supply property keys or recommend that tenants provide consent for keys to be given to agency support workers.
There is no legal liability or obligation on the Office of Housing to encourage a young person to give consent for agency support workers to have key access.
Signed consent is required (as agreed by the young person and the agency support worker) for key access to be given to the agency support worker.
If the young person provides consent for the agency support worker to have a key to the property, ensure that this is clearly recorded in CRIS.
Concerns for safety of the young person
If you are concerned a young person in a property may be injured or unwell, follow these steps:
- Make attempts to contact the young person directly.
- Contact the Transitional Housing Management worker to find out whether they have had any recent contact with the young person.
- Contact the next of kin, doctor or other support providers involved with the young person to find out whether they have had any contact with the young person.
- Check the property externally for signs of activity or vacancy.
- Ask neighbours whether they have noticed any recent activity.
- Contact local hospitals and police to ascertain whether they have had recent contact with the young person.
Entering the property – agency support provider
If emergency access to the property is required, this should be agreed upon by both youth justice and the agency support provider.
- The manager of both youth justice and the agency support provider should be informed.
- Most agencies will require that a second worker is in attendance before a property will be entered.
- Contact the police to ask that they attend the property to assist with entering the property.
- Contact the Transitional Housing Management worker to request that they attend the property with a key.
- If the Transitional Housing Management worker is unable to attend the property and sufficient concern for the safety of the young person exists, the police are lawfully able to gain forced access to the property.
- If the police do not attend the property, contact the ambulance service (police generally do this in such circumstances).
If access to a property is sought after hours because of concern for the safety of the young person, the agency support provider is to:
- Contact the police immediately for assistance in entering the property
- Contact the Transitional Housing Management after-hours contact number if one is available or notify the Transitional Housing Management worker the following morning of the incident and need for forced access.
Where possible, it is preferable to pre-empt the possibility of after-hours contact and ensure that the team leader or team manager is informed.
Divisional youth justice offices and housing programs have the flexibility to use brokerage funding to create packages tailored to meet the individual young person's needs.
This can include the purchase of intensive transitional support, opportunities in employment and education, and building community relationships and personal wellbeing.
To access accommodation or housing services, the young person is likely to need proof of identity documentation.
Help the young person gather and complete required documents, fill in application forms and attend relevant appointments with the young person.
If a young person is in custody, these tasks need to be completed before release as part of the custodial case manager's exit planning responsibilities.