Youth Justice

The Civil Chaplaincies Advisory Committee

operates within the terms for reference provided by a

Juvenile Justice

Memorandum of Understanding

with the

New South Wales Government.

Memorandum of Understanding

This memorandum (MOU) was signed in 2008

with what was then the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Juvenile Justice is now the responsibility of NSW Justice

Mission of Juvenile Justice Chaplains

The mission of Juvenile Justice Chaplains has three parts. It is to contribute to the spiritual, psychological and emotional well being of

    • youth who have been detained within the NSW Juvenile Justice system,

    • their families, and

    • those who serve or have responsibility for these youth.

Juvenile Justice in NSW Justice

Justice NSW describes its service to the NSW community in the area of Juvenile Justice as providing quality services to young people who have committed criminal offences. The goal is maximise the capacity and opportunity of these young people to choose positive alternatives to offending behaviour. [1]

These young people include those who are

    • referred and accepted for youth justice conferences,

    • remanded in custody pending appearance at court and

    • sentenced by a court to

      • community based supervision or

      • a period in custody in a juvenile justice centre.

General Principles of Chaplaincy in MOU

Five comprehensive principles principles of chaplaincy that have been addressed in the MOU.[2] These are

Access to Spiritual Care

Chaplains engage with young offenders on the understanding that detainees are deserving of spiritual and pastoral care notwithstanding the crime they have committed.

Young people in custody have a right to access spiritual care including religious ministry and worship just as they have the right to food, shelter and other physical needs.

Independence of Chaplains

Chaplains work independently within Juvenile Justice Centres without being agents of the NSW Justice. The independence of chaplains is integral to their effectiveness.

Chaplains will be cautious to always stress their independence from the department so that they will not be seen as, nor mistaken for, agents of the department.


The level of trust and confidentiality that can be maintained between a detainee and a Chaplain can be broken only under the circumstances specified in this MoU (these are listed in section 10) [3].

Chaplains are also bound by the confidentiality provisions of

    • the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (section 11 ),

    • the Children (Detention Centres) Act 1987 (section 370),

    • the Children (Community Service Orders) Act 1987 (section 28A) and

    • the Young Offenders Act 1997 (sections 65 and 66).


Individual chaplains are accountable to their appointing religious organisations in matters of faith, religious practice and professional conduct. These organisations are listed under "Member Organisations".

Chaplains are also accountable to the CCAC in matters relating to CCAC policy.

In matters of institutional and departmental policy, protocol and security Chaplains are accountable to NSW Justice.

Multi - Faith

Chaplains will ensure that detainees of all faiths and beliefs have access to ministry that accounts for different cultures, faiths and beliefs.

In particular, culturally appropriate pastoral care will be provided to Aboriginal detainees on an equitable basis according to need.

Indigenous Focus

Particular attention is paid to providing culturally sensitive spiritual care to indigenous detainees. It is recognised that about half of the young people in detention are 16 or 17 years old. Most of the others are even younger. About 80% are male and 20% female.

  • About half of the detainees identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander,

  • about one-third will re-offend within 12 months of their release, and

  • about half of them will re-offend within 24 months of their release.

More detail regarding these statistics can be found at Juvenile Justice Statistics

What is Spiritual Care?

All Chaplaincy is to promote well-being in the spiritual core of our humanity. Juvenile Justice Chaplains provide spiritual care to young persons to help them develop the resources to successfully cope with themselves and their world. This is done with the understanding that an important part being human is spiritual: spiritual beings, living in physical bodies, in an ever-changing world.

Spiritual care addresses this dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity. Through this spirituality individuals and communities seek

  • ultimate meaning,

  • purpose, and/or

  • transcendence.

It is exercised in relation to

  • self,

  • family,

  • others,

  • community,

  • the significant, and/or

  • the sacred. [4]

These issues are recognised as

  • understood and expressed differently by people with different life experiences, religions and cultures but are

  • common to all human beings regardless of their faith or no-faith.

Accreditation and Standards

The Civil Chaplaincies Advisory Committee (CCAC) is the official channel through which recommendations for appointment of Chaplains are made.

The CCAC provides guidelines for various aspects of Chaplaincy and negotiates on behalf of its member religious organisations.

It seeks to

  • ensure appropriate appointments,

  • recommends standards of excellence and

  • acts as a resource for member religious organisations on chaplaincy matters.[5]

Institutions Served

CCAC accredited chaplains serve in all NSW Juvenile Justice Centres.

Chaplains are assigned to every centre to provide religious and spiritual support to staff and detainees.

  • Chaplains usually minister at set hours, but can be available at other times.

  • Chaplains minister to, and support, all faith traditions on an equal basis.

  • Each chaplain is also supported by a network of clergy and volunteers who

    • represent a broad range of religious views, and

    • an provide personalised religious services when these are required.

The NSW Juvenile Justice Centres are listed and linked below.

Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre

57 Swallow Rd,

South Grafton

NSW 2460

Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre Website

Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre

Water Street

Saint Marys

NSW 2747

Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre Website

Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre

Pacific Hwy


NSW 2250

Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre Website

Orana Juvenile Justice Centre

Westview Street


NSW 2830

Orana Juvenile Justice Centre Website

Reiby Juvenile Justice Centre

20 Briar Rd


NSW 2560

Reiby Juvenile Justice Centre Website

Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre

Fernleigh Rd & Glenfield Rd

Wagga Wagga

NSW 2650

Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre Website

Economic Value

A 2014 report by Deloitte Acccess Economics that had been commissioned by the CCAC found on the basis of both international and domestic studies that chaplaincy services provide a benefit to cost ratio of 2. That is for every dollar spent, two are saved. This was estimated on the basis of reported rates of both incarceration and recidivism (repeat offending).[6]

[1] Memorandum of Understanding between the CCAC and the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice (2008, p.3)

[2] Ibid. p. 4

[3] Ibid. p.14

[4] Derived from Puchalski, Christina M., Robert Vitillo, Sharon K. Hull, and Nancy Reller. “Improving the Spiritual Dimension of Whole Person Care: Reaching National and International Consensus.” Journal of Palliative Medicine 17, no. 6 (June 2014): 642–56. doi:10.1089/jpm.2014.9427.

[5] Memorandum of Understanding between the CCAC and the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice (2008, p.3)

[6] Deliotte Access Economics,Economic and Social Benefits of Civil Chaplaincies in New South Wales (2014 p.i).