16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 March 2023

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

Blueprint for a Better Future: Paving the Way for Youth Justice Reform

High profile instances of children offending have led to sky high community concern across the country from Carnarvon in the West to Townsville in Far North Queensland. But even more concerning is the alarming conditions in juvenile detention centres and criminal justice systems nationally that children as young as 10 years old are being subjected too- including WA’s Banksia Hill and Unit 18 in Casuarina maximum security adult prison.

Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that incarceration of children and young people causes long term detrimental harm, and fails to effectively rehabilitate or reintegrate the vast majority of young people sent to prison. We know that responding to youth justice issues requires interventions across many social areas, and yet there is a significant lack of funded, effective alternatives and options for responding to children and young people in the communities that need them most. This is compounded by both discrimination, and disconnected service systems which often shuffles children around until they fall through cracks.

We fail to meet the needs of vulnerable young people, who often end up incarcerated.

Everybody wants to live in safety and free of fear in their communities, and most Australians don’t want to see children in prison. The new Closing the Gap targets commit every government in this nation to addressing the injustice of the tremendously disproportionate rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Incarceration. But we know our current systems aren’t working to achieve this.

We need a whole-of-system approach that responds to the underlying causes of offending to reduce crime, ensures the wellbeing of children and young people, and delivers safer and better futures for our most disadvantaged communities.

But how do we get there?
This Keynote will explore the pathways we need to follow to build a better future when it comes to youth justice; and how we can pave the way together for smarter justice, healthier families, and safer communities.


Lulkbudia McLean
Storyteller & Campaigner
, Social Reinvestment WA

Lulkbudia is a proud Mirwoong Gadjerong person from Kununurra in the East Kimberley, passionate about First Nations empowerment, decolonisation and advocating for change in the justice system that sees an end to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Lulkbudia harnesses lived experience to advocate for justice and hold oppressive systems and decision makers to account, following in the footsteps of the elders who have paved the way for young mob today. Lulkbudia is a 2022 Community Organising fellow and member of a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activist network called Blakollective.

Sophie Stewart
Executive Manager
, Social Reinvestment WA

Sophie was born and raised in Boorloo on Noongar Country. She has over a decade experience in non-profits, advocacy, policy and law reform, youth development and was the first person employed by SRWA in 2016. Since that time she has lead our successful campaign to end imprisonment for unpaid fines, supported the community of Halls Creek in launching Olabud Doogethu – the state’s first justice reinvestment site, coordinated sector responses during COVID, executive produced the Stories from the Inside podcast, and grown the coalition to 31 NFP members and 6 staff. Sophie has a BA (Hons) in Political Science and International Relations from UWA, is an 2022 ISS Fellow for Innovation in Criminal Justice Reform, the founder and Chairperson of Swim for Refugees, Board Member for WA Justice Association, a TedX presenter, and was the 2021 WA Young Leader, and WA Young Achiever of the Year.