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Design guide for small-scale local facilities

Design guidelines for evidence-based, best-practice youth justice facilities in Victoria
Architecture Juvenile offenders Prisons Rehabilitation User-centred design Youth justice Victoria

There is a strong evidence base which informs how youth justice facilities should be designed to improve outcomes for justice-involved young people in custody, improve the working conditions for Youth Justice staff, and improve public safety through reducing the risk of reoffending.

The physical environment of a facility greatly impacts the procedures within a youth justice environment, the relationships between staff and young people, and ultimately a young person’s prospects of rehabilitation and community safety.

This guide outlines a scheme for a new architectural model for youth justice facilities in Victoria. It aims to make good design principles concrete, so that the designs of future facilities might have the benefit of a best-practice evidence base.

Key principles:

Small scale - Approximately 8-beds in size, allowing staff to develop meaningful relationships with young people, to understand the individual motivations, risks, needs, skills and strengths of each young person, and to modify their role and behaviour based on this knowledge.

Differentiated and Relational Security - Promoting approaches that encourage a therapeutic relationship between staff and young people, with measures that are adaptable to individual dynamic risks and needs, and goals, with a preference for semi-open settings.

Local - Sited close to the young person’s community to support accessibility and allow the strengthening of protective factors, including school, family, and prosocial connections. 

Therapeutic - A healthy and home-like environment, designed to reduce stress, aggressive and harmful behaviours, and promote overall wellbeing and mental health.

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