This procedure relates to the youth justice role in managing therapeutic treatment orders for children aged between 10 years and 14 years (inclusive).


When to use this procedure

When working with a child who is subject to a therapeutic treatment order.


What else you need to know

Make sure you have read and understood the following procedures:

  • Pre-sentence report
  • Youth justice care teams
  • Deferral of sentencing
  • Working with child protection

Practice context and legislation

  • Applications for a therapeutic treatment order are made by child protection to the family division of the children's court.
  • A children’s court may make a therapeutic treatment order if it is satisfied that child protection can show:
    • a child has exhibited sexually abusive behaviours
    • that the order is necessary to ensure the child's access to, or attendance at, an appropriate therapeutic treatment program.
  • A therapeutic treatment order requires the child to attend an appropriate treatment program to address their sexually abusive behaviours. A therapeutic treatment order has a maximum duration of one year and can be extended once for a maximum of 12 months. The order cannot be breached, however it can be revoked.
  • The order may have conditions attached requiring the child's parent(s) and/or carer(s) to take any necessary steps to enable the child to attend treatment, or for the child to be placed away from home during the period of the treatment order.
  • Youth justice and child protection workers must consult and work together to manage both the protection and criminal aspects of investigations to ensure the best interests of the child and the victim are met.
  • Intervening early with children exhibiting sexually abusive behaviour can help prevent ongoing and more serious sexual offences, and therapeutic treatment orders can facilitate this without criminal prosecution.
  • A therapeutic treatment order can be recommended, where appropriate, as a sentencing alternative to a youth justice order.

Roles and key tasks

Youth justice court advice service worker

  • Be conscious of the possibility of a therapeutic treatment order being made for a child currently involved with youth justice, or children who have also had a presentence report requested.
  • Advise allocated case manager.

Case manager

  • Liaise with child protection regarding whether a therapeutic treatment order is appropriate.
  • Prepare any reports the court requests of youth justice.

Team leader / team manager

  • Consult with the case manager.
  • Endorse assessments, client service plans and court reports.
  • Issue warnings and authorise breach action where appropriate.

Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support

  • Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice service.
  • Provide case consultation regarding children exhibiting high-risk behaviours.

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

  • Provide case consultation in relation to court recommendations, breaches and particularly for children exhibiting high-risk behaviour. This should occur subject to local area agreements between Assistant Director / Manager Individual Family Support and the Senior Practice Advisor.



The procedure in detail

Application for a therapeutic treatment order

The delegation for applying for a therapeutic treatment order lies with a child protection worker level two and above.

The Therapeutic Treatment Board evaluates and advises on services available for children in need of treatment.

The board also provides advice to child protection regarding the suitability of a therapeutic treatment or placement order.

If the board makes a referral for advice and child protection decides to act contrary to that advice, the decision must by endorsed by the regional child protection manager.

The board must be advised of this decision and the reasons.

Factors to be considered

Child protection must take the following factors into account when considering a recommendation for a therapeutic treatment order:

  • Is the family willing and able to voluntarily support the child to engage in appropriate therapeutic treatment?
  • What is the child's history with youth justice; do they have capacity to comply with the order?
  • What is the most effective pathway to manage the child's behaviour?
  • What is the frequency and seriousness of the sexually abusive behaviours?
  • Does the seriousness of the behaviour warrant a finding of guilt and treatment to be mandated through the criminal justice stream?

The recommendation made to the children's court must result from joint decisions reached between child protection and youth justice workers on a case-by-case basis taking into account individual needs.

Consultation by child protection with youth justice

When a child is brought before the criminal division of the children's court, or where the child is currently involved with youth justice, child protection must consult with youth justice workers before submitting a referral to the Therapeutic Treatment Board or making a therapeutic treatment order application to court.

Consultation and information sharing is undertaken to obtain an understanding of the child's:

  • offending history
  • types of offending
  • outstanding charges
  • current and previous therapeutic interventions.


If the child is currently involved with youth justice, consultation is required between programs to:

  • determine if a joint visit to the child is appropriate
  • inform assessment
  • assist with the preparation of the pre sentence report and formulate recommendations.

Child protection may seek to consult with youth justice to obtain advice relating to the assessment of the behaviour of a child involved with child protection within a criminal framework.

Refer to procedures for ‘Working with child protection', and the 'Protocol between child protection and youth justice" for further information.

Pre-sentence report

The criminal division of the court may order a pre-sentence report from youth justice at the same time as child protection is considering an application for a therapeutic treatment order in the family division.

While youth justice and child protection must consult with each other, they are not compelled to make the same recommendation.

Referrals to child protection from youth justice

Youth justice can make a referral to child protection about suitability for a therapeutic treatment order where it is evident:

  • that a child has exhibited sexually abusive behaviours
  • that the order is necessary to ensure the child’s access to, or attendance at, an appropriate therapeutic treatment program.

If a therapeutic treatment order is viewed as more suitable than recommending a youth justice order, youth justice is able to recommend that the children's court make a therapeutic treatment report to child protection for investigation under s. 349(2) of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. In this instance, the youth justice worker initiates consultation with child protection.

Where a therapeutic treatment order has been made in respect of a young person facing criminal charges, the criminal proceedings must be adjourned for a period not less than the period of the therapeutic treatment order.

If the criminal division of the court is satisfied that the young person has attended and participated in the therapeutic treatment program under the therapeutic treatment order, it must discharge the child without any further hearing of the criminal proceedings.

Case management

Where dual order responsibilities exist between youth justice and child protection for a child who is also on a therapeutic treatment order, regular liaison is required to monitor:

  • case management practices
  • case planning decisions
  • compliance with order requirements
  • the child's participation in the required treatment order.

Refer to the procedure for ‘Working with Child Protection', and the Protocol between child protection and youth justice for further information.

If a young person is also a client of disability services, refer to the procedure for ‘Working with disability services’.

Also refer to the Protocol between youth justice and disability services and guidelines for workers, or theChildren, youth and families and disability services operating framework.

Non-compliance with the therapeutic treatment order

Therapeutic treatment orders cannot be breached.

Where the child is not complying with the therapeutic treatment order, and this order is revoked, the hearing of the criminal charges will occur following the court being informed of the non-compliance.

If the order is to be revoked, child protection must seek advice from the board prior to making an application in the family division of the children's court.


Therapeutic treatment orders are entered in the Client Relationship Information System (CRIS) by the child protection worker.

If the child is also a youth justice client, the therapeutic treatment order is noted on the youth justice client file in CRIS.

Treatment programs

A range of recognised therapeutic treatment services are located across Victoria.

Most of these services are Centres Against Sexual Assault.


Additional information