Approaching youth justice with a design mindset

Working in justice is not new to us, but tackling the distinct challenges of youth justice is. Join us as we explain why working in this area is important to us, and find out the early insights we have already gained about the youth justice system.

It's been six years since Portable launched Design for justice, our report looking at the opportunities within justice for good design to make a real difference and transform the justice system. Since this report was launched we have been working in this space and applying our findings to real problems, and creating solutions that would advance the Australian justice system and help those navigating it to have a better experience. Some of our highlights have been: Settle—our online dispute resolution tool, Yourcase—an online tool that guides you through your court experience (launching later this year), and Courtsight—a digitial wayfinding, check-in and ticketing system for law courts.

But when it comes to the particular challenges and complexities of the youth justice system, we realised two things. Firstly, that there are systemic issues in this system that we may be able to assist with. And secondly, that before we tried to do anything we needed the assistance of experts within youth justice to investigate and fully grasp the issues being faced, learn what the system is calling out for and find out how we can use our experience to help.

We started this project the same way we do with all our R&D, by gathering a group of diverse professionals from the youth justice system for a dinner to discuss their thoughts on the current state and possible opportunities in that area. After hearing from our group at the Melbourne dinner we were able to draw out some important insights that were central to many of the systemic issues being faced by those working in or going through the system.

One of the things that really stood out to us from this initial dinner was that there is a great appetite for change. When faced with the complexity of the youth justice system and outcomes that show inherent flaws, those working within the system are keeping their eyes looking forward to a changed future. They gain hope from the successes of international models, see the potential for change within communities, support channels, policy, and legislation, and are focused change that will see the young person involved and not just their behaviours.

Although we are at an early stage in our youth justice research, we have seen that the insights gained from this dinner are valuable on their own. If you would like to access these insights we ask you to visit our youth justice page where you can download them for free and join our mailing list for further information as our research continues.

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