Reflecting on 25 Years of the Young Offenders Act 1997 in NSW – Law School: Events Reflecting on 25 Years of the Young Offenders Act 1997 in NSW – Law School: Events

Reflecting on 25 Years of the Young Offenders Act 1997 in NSW

Reflecting on 25 Years of the Young Offenders Act 1997 in NSW

Hybrid event

In April 1998, the Young Offenders Act 1997 commenced in New South Wales. It provided a legislative basis for the diversion of young people from formal court proceedings and introduced, amongst other things, youth justice conferences. A panel discussion involving key actors in the development and initial implementation of the YOA will reflect on this history and discuss the challenges of implementing the legislation and the benefits of diverting young people from more formal criminal justice interventions.

Garner Clancey (Associate Professor Criminology, Sydney Law School) will facilitate this panel discussion which will, amongst others, include:

Jenny Bargen
Jenny’s passion for reforming the way police respond to children and young people was kindled while working with unemployed young people at Rozelle Community Youth Support Scheme in the early ‘80s when she first moved to Sydney. Some years later, after completing my law degree, Jenny became one of the early members of the Youth Justice Coalition and participated in preparing and writing Kids in Justice, a Blueprint for the’90s, and then lobbying government to implement the recommendations. Those implemented included the establishment of Juvenile Justice as a separate government department and the appointment of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (JJAC) with our former Governor Maree Bashir as chair. Jenny joined the academic staff at UNSW Law School in 1990, where she taught and researched in juvenile justice and children and the law, while remaining an active member of the YJC. Jenny also served on the JJAC, and on the Children’s Law and Criminal Law committees of the Law Society of NSW, and was a member of the working party on entry into the juvenile justice system chaired by the then Police Commissioner Anthony Lauer. This working party was responsible for preparing the chapter on juvenile entry into the Juvenile Justice System for the Green Paper, Future Directions in Juvenile Justice in New South Wales.

Later, as a member of the YJC, Jenny and many others contributed to the work of the Minor Offenders Punishment Scheme committee that ultimately recommended the introduction of the Young Offenders Act. Jenny was appointed as Director of the Youth Justice Conferencing Directorate in the Department of Juvenile Justice in 1997, and worked closely for 10 years with police, the ODPP, lawyers, courts and community organisations in implementing and operating under the Act.

Louise Blazejowska

Louise was admitted in 1984 before working at the Aboriginal Legal Service preparing asbestosis claims, assisting former wards of the Aborigines Welfare Board and Protection Board, appearing on behalf of children, young people and adults in various matters. She worked as an Investigative Officer for the RCIADIC from 1988 to 1990 then community legal centres in particular in the area of domestic violence. From 1995 to 2000, Louise worked at the Attorney General’s Department on various legislative proposals including the Young Offenders Act. She worked from 2001 to 2011 at Legal Aid NSW in different roles, setting up various services including the Aboriginal Justice Unit, Regional Solicitor Program and Domestic Violence Solicitor Service. From 201`2 to 2016, Louise worked at Ageing Disability and Home Care on boarding house reform and the transition to the NDIS and then at FACS as Director of the Legislative Reform Unit followed by a stint at Land and Housing. Since 2019 Louise has been working as a Director in Court Services providing strategic planning and operational advice on the Local Court, Children’s Court, coronial and District Court jurisdictions as well as establishing and expanding various court services such as the Youth Koori Court and Drug Court.

Dr Jane Bolitho

Dr Bolitho is a highly respected expert in restorative justice, restorative practices, and violence and conflict resolution. Her work explores the experiences of those coming before criminal justice systems, the operations of formal and community-based justice systems, alternative models of resolution, and innovations in justice. Dr Bolitho conducted important research into youth justice conferences in the early years of the implementation of the Young Offenders Act.

Richard Funston
Richard worked as solicitor Children’s Legal Service with Legal Aid Victoria from 1987 to 1993, then principal solicitor Inner City Legal Centre NSW from 1993 to 1998.  Richard was appointed solicitor in charge Children’s Legal Service at Legal Aid NSW from 1998 to 2003.  Richard was a member of the Executive at Legal Aid NSW in various roles including Director Criminal Law and Deputy Chief Executive Officer from 2003 to 2018.  Richard was appointed a magistrate in 2018 and specialist children’s magistrate at the start of this year. 

Acting Superintendent Joanne Schultz

Joanne has been a member of the NSW Police Force for 35 years. From 1998 to 2002 Joanne was the Principal Tutor Youth at the NSWPF Academy and was heavily involved in the roll out of the Specialist Youth Officer Workshop and Youth Liaison Officer Courses across New South Wales. Joanne is currently relieving as Commander, Mid North Coast Police District.


Rescheduled date: Wednesday 3 May2023

Time: 5.30-7pm, with drinks and canapes to follow
The University of Sydney, Law Lounge, Level 1, New Law Building Annex (F10A), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown
Cost: Free, but registration is essential. Please select your attendance type during registration.

CPD points: 1.5 points

This event is being held an online and in-person at Sydney Law School. Please indicate your viewing preference when registering.


This event is proudly hosted by University of Sydney Youth Justice Collaboration and The University of Sydney Law School.


May 03 2023


5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

More Info

Register here


Law Lounge, Level 1
New Law Building Annex (F10A), Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney (Camperdown Campus)


Professional Learning & Community Engagement
02 9351 0248

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