SOS provides after-hours outreach to young people at risk of harm or exploitation in St Kilda and the central business district of Melbourne.


When to use this procedure

When young people are engaging in high-risk behaviour, and at risk of harm, in St Kilda or Melbourne CBD.


Practice context and legislation

  • Streetwork Outreach Service (SOS) and Central After Hours Bail Placement Service (CAHABPS) operate as an integrated after-hours service.
  • The role of the service is to provide:
  • an outreach response to young people engaged in high-risk behaviours, and at risk of harm or exploitation within St Kilda and central business district of Melbourne 
  • assessments in relation to bail placement suitability and facilitate bail placement.
  • A team manager manages the service with a team leader and protective practitioners rostered on each shift.
  • Youth justice and child protection often work with young people who are involved with both service systems at the same time.
  • A dual order refers to circumstances where a young person is concurrently subject to a child protection order and a youth justice order under Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. Youth Justice may have contact with SOS.
  • For further information on the CAHABPS component of the integrated service, see Central After Hours and Bail Placement Service (CAHABPS) practice instruction.

Roles and key tasks

Case manager

  • Refer young people to SOS when you have concerns about their vulnerability due to their behaviours or associations.
  • Consult with SOS and provide/receive updates as required.
  • Invite SOS representatives to care team meetings where appropriate.
  • Liaise with line management and consult with Youth Justice Senior Practice Adviser in relation to high-risk young people.

Team leader / team manager

  • Provide consultation and supervision to case manager.

Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support

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

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

  • Provide case consultation regarding 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

Target group

SOS provide after-hours services to young people:

  • on children's court orders and/or statutory court orders who may be at risk of harm or exploitation
  • subject to a report under Children, Youth and Families Act 2005
  • aged between 10–18 years in a voluntary capacity
  • aged between 17–21 years who do not fall within the leaving care provisions.

SOS operates in St Kilda and the Melbourne central business district.

Referrals to SOS

Referrals are received from departmental staff, police, residential units or case contracted agencies.

Referrals are also received directly from young people or their families.

Through outreach contact initiated by the SOS staff and the use of street networks, the service engages directly with young people who appear vulnerable due to their behaviours or associations.

SOS role

The service can:

  • identify young people at risk
  • assess and intervene with young people involved in high risk activities in a street-based context
  • investigate and intervene when young people are at immediate risk
  • provide referral and diversionary support services for the young person and their family
  • inform case planning and/or case management responses from regional services.

If SOS are made aware of a young person or the young person who meets the criteria above, they will:

  • ascertain the risk factors for the young person
  • check Client Relationship Information System (CRIS) for a record of that young person
  • discuss the type of response needed
  • determine the priority for an outreach response.

Key elements of SOS

SOS practitioners actively interact with young people in the 'street' environment to:

  • identify and respond immediately to young people at risk of harm
  • prevent or reduce the level of risk and promote protective factors in the young person's life
  • increase the protection for young people and support young people out of exploitation.

This is achieved by:

  • assisting young people to understand the harm associated with those risks
  • negotiate with young people to remove themselves from locations where they are likely to be at risk
  • focus on prevention of escalation of risk
  • empower young people and families to deal with conflict and preserve relationships
  • link young people and families to community based services that provide follow up support where possible, re-establishing links with family and community networks
  • intervene within the street context.

The key aim is for immediate protection and harm reduction.

Support regional and after-hours practitioners

SOS can:

  • act as a point of contact between young people and day time support services or the regional allocated worker
  • assist regional case planning or case management to assess the risks that might affect young people who have not had contact with youth justice for some time
  • intervene if immediate action is required
  • make recommendations about options or alternative approaches regarding case management strategies
  • attend planning meetings as a consultant to assist in establishing and implementing plans for young person.

Information required for SOS

Prior to making contact with the SOS, obtain the following information:

  • what the young person looks like (if a photograph is available provide a copy)
  • who the young person associates with and the nature of their relationships
  • where they go and what they do
  • the specific risks to which they are exposed
  • how these risks should be managed by the after hours service (as far as circumstances permit)
  • the young person's relevant history to assist in formulating the appropriate management strategy
  • the young person's legal status
  • outstanding warrants and recommendations should contact occur.

Young people involved on a voluntary basis

SOS work with young people on a voluntary basis to provide:

  • immediate assessment and support on the street
  • information exchange with support services
  • referrals.

There is no capacity for ongoing casework support.

Contact with young people under the age of 17 years can be recorded as child wellbeing reports or a referral to Child FIRST (Family Information Referral and Support Team) can occur.

The focus is to prevent of escalation of risk and re-establish the young person's links with family and the community.

SOS can make a report for child protection intervention.

Leaving care

SOS can support young people up to the age of 21 years who fall within the leaving care provisions ofChildren, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Support entails facilitating existing linkages with non-statutory services through informal communication with young people and relevant services and initiating further referrals where appropriate.

If young person is under 17 years and the SOS has contact with them.

SOS will offer risk assessment and diversionary services.

If a young person is 17 years or older, risk management will have less relevance than with younger people and may be limited to situations where there are existing intensive support networks which could be informed if a risk is identified (for example complex care).


SOS practitioners are protective interveners, therefore all significant SOS contacts with young people currently involved with child protection will be recorded on CRIS and SOS will liaise with area staff and other agencies as appropriate.