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Youth Justice Services

At Life Without Barriers we work with young people who are doing it tough and remind them they are not alone. Our Youth Justice services support young people to break the offending cycle and become valued members of the community.

Our services for young people include transport, housing, education and training, mentoring and alcohol and drug counselling. We also work with young people to increase their workforce participation. Our employment services provide assessment, training and support to young people to identify and promote employment opportunities.

Multisystemic Therapy (MST)

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is an intensive family and community-based program that addresses the multiple factors known to be related to anti-social behaviour and youth offending across the key settings, or systems, within which a young person lives. It uses the strengths of each system (e.g., family, peers, school, neighbourhood, indigenous support network) to facilitate positive behavioural change. Intervention may be necessary in any one or a combination of these systems.

The ultimate goals of MST are to provide parents with the skills and resources that they need to address independently the difficulties that arise when rearing teenagers and to give young people skills to cope with family, peer, school, and neighbourhood problems. Thus, MST interventions typically aim to:

  • improve caregiver parenting practices
  • enhance family relations
  • reduce at risk, anti-social and offending behaviour
  • decrease the young person’s association with deviant peers
  • increase the young person’s association with pro-social peers
  • improve the young person’s school or vocational performance
  • engage the young person in positive recreational outlets
  • develop a natural support network of extended family, neighbours, and friends to help caregivers achieve and maintain such changes.

In the words of a children’s court Judge: “By treating the family as a whole, the court is not sending ‘rehabilitated’ youths back into the same dysfunctional environment. The goals are healthier families and reduced recidivism. MST aims to stop the cycle of dysfunction and criminality-generationally.”

MST is an internationally recognised evidence based program that has been shown in rigorous, scientific, tests to be superior to other interventions for adolescents exhibiting severe antisocial and criminal behaviour.

MST is delivered through a partnership arrangement with the program developers and provider agencies who deliver the interventions. As well as delivering MST, LWB has been licenced to support other agencies delivering MST, in Australia and NZ, through the provision of weekly consultant supervision to the MST therapists as well as ongoing coaching and quarterly training which is crucial to the success of the programs. In the Network Partner role, LWB also undertakes quality assurance functions and ensures program fidelity. LWB is able to assist other agencies in program start-up and implementation activities. These include a process for determining if MST is the right ‘fit’ for a community and technical assistance and materials designed to produce a program description, budget and implementation timeline.