Department of Human Services

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Youth Justice operates under a legislative framework in South Australia, primarily under the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016.


  • Youth Justice Administration Act 2016 (more information below)
  • Youth Justice Administration Regulations 2016 (more information below)
  • Young Offenders Act 1993 (more information below)
  • Family and Community Services Act 1972
  • Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935
  • Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988
  • Bail Act 1985
  • Summary Procedure Act 1921
  • Summary Offences Act 1953

Youth Justice Administration Act (YJAA) and Regulations (YJAR) 2016

The YJAA provides for a more streamlined legislative framework under which the Department of Human Services (DHS) Youth Justice Division may exercise its’ youth justice powers and functions.

The YJAA 2016 allows for the administration of training centres and community supervision services. Importantly, it aligns with the objects and guiding principles of the Young Offenders Act 1993, such as the promotion of individual responsibility, restitution to victims, community safety and the rehabilitation of young people, and provides a consistent legislative framework for the management of young people in the justice system.

The needs, vulnerability and developmental differences of young people are recognised and protected in the YJAA. This is particularly reflected by the inclusion of a provision requiring a ‘Charter of Rights for Youths Detained in Training Centres’.

Rehabilitation is a core objective of service delivery requirements, including assessment-based case planning, targeted programming and a focus on family and community inclusive practice. Connecting young people to family and community will help bring about the best outcomes.

The YJAA includes provisions which reflect contemporary practice in the administration of training centres, including provisions relating to safety and security requirements.

The YJAA seeks to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, through specific provisions to ensure best practise approaches are taken during their supervision.  The YJAA also requires that there is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Justice Principle.  The Principle ensures that the individual cultural identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people is recognised and that their beliefs are supported, respected and valued.

To support the Act, the YJAR was developed to provide greater  detail for certain youth justice functions, particularly the administration of training centres.

YJAA recognises interaction with companion legislation and requires the YJAA and the Young Offenders Act 1993 (YOA) are to be read together and construed as the two acts constitute a single act.

The Young Offenders Act 1993 (YOA)

The primary consideration of the YOA is “… to secure for youths who offend against the criminal law the care, correction and guidance necessary for their development into responsible and useful members of the community and the proper realisation of their potential” (YOA s 3 (1)). This must be balanced against the need for youths to be aware of their obligations under the law and the consequences of breaching the law, and the need for the community to be protected against violence and wrongful acts (YOA s 3(2)).

The YOA recognises that young people have a different level of accountability before the law. Therefore, the response to any breach of the law by a young person emphasises diversion, rehabilitation and maintaining community connection, as well as consideration of individual responsibility and community safety. Under the YO Act detention in a youth training centre (like imprisonment) is the most serious sanction.

Page last updated : 01 May 2022

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