An insight into our Youth Crime lawyers

An insight into our Youth Crime lawyers

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

'It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men' – Frederick Douglass

More than 160 years after civil rights leader and social reformer Frederick Douglass penned his famous quote about slavery, it can just as easily explain why our youth crime lawyers are so passionate about their work with our young clients.

Geelong Managing Lawyer and Youth Crime portfolio holder, Shelley Buchecker, says the quote resonates strongly with youth crime lawyers as early intervention in youth crime is critical if a young person is to be steered away from the path of committing even more serious crimes, and otherwise ending up in the adult criminal justice system.

‘Kids are full of potential and the community has a responsibility to keep them safe and ensure they use their talents to the best of their ability.

‘Unfortunately, the system often fails many young people.

‘I hope to play a small, yet vital, part in improving the system, so that the most vulnerable members of our community experience all the joy and hope of youth.

‘Furthermore, if we invest in young people and protect them from trauma, we can prevent them entering the adult criminal justice system and encourage them to make a positive contribution to the community as adults,’ said Shelley.

Image of Shelley Buchecker and Anoushka Jeronimus
Geelong Managing Lawyer Shelley Buchecker and Youth Crime Program Manager Anoushka Jeronimus

Our Youth Crime Program Manager Anoushka Jeronimus is also an ardent believer in the benefits of youth crime work.

‘I believe this is the jurisdiction where you can have the greatest impact.

‘Whether in court on behalf of one young person or at a systemic level, we are in a unique position in the justice system to make a positive impact.

‘Having worked in youth justice for 12 years, I still feel energised by the jurisdiction, but outraged by unjust outcomes.

‘I relish working with my colleagues and within the sector to determine how to make the system better and fairer for young people.’ 

Shelley and Anoushka have been working on a number of initiatives to improve outcomes for young people caught up in the youth crime system.

‘I’m proud to be involved in an initiative in Geelong called Reignite which provides intensive case management to a small group of young people whose offending is recurring and escalating,’ said Shelley.

‘Case managers work with these young people and offer social supports that many kids take for granted, such as having a parent to take them to school or to the doctor.

‘The Reignite workers also support the kids with strategies to improve relationships with their families, attend school and ultimately build the self-confidence to cease offending,’ said Shelley

Anoushka has also been engaging in a number of initiatives to benefit young people caught up in the youth justice system.

‘I’ve been advocating for a sector-wide strategy to address the disproportionate representation of vulnerable groups of young people in the justice system, including from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds; working on a project to start engaging with former clients and young people with lived experience of the justice system about our services, including a customer satisfaction survey; and setting up our new youth preventative detention service,’ said Anoushka.

Asked about how they like to see our youth crime services evolve in the future, Anoushka and Shelley are united in their desire that their young client’s unique rights are protected under the law, and that children should receive high quality legal services which are tailored to their individual needs.

‘I hope Victoria Legal Aid can influence the narrative around youth crime and promote compassion for traumatised children and understanding of the Children’s Court as a therapeutic jurisdiction,’ said Shelley

‘I look forward to us continuing to be responsive to our client’s needs, advocating for better legal outcomes for young people, supporting our staff to practise in a specialist jurisdiction and providing input into policy development and strategic litigation,’ said Anoushka.

More information

Meet our Youth Crime team.

Read about our Youth Crime practice resources for lawyers. 


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