Social work and service improvement: An example from the first youth forensic forum


  • Joanna Appleby University of Auckland, New Zealand



Mental health, youth forensic, systems, policy


INTRODUCTION: This article focuses on the social work contribution to service improvement by reflecting on the establishment of the first youth forensic forum in Aotearoa New Zealand, held in October 2018.

APPROACH: An exploration of the Aotearoa New Zealand context that led to the establishment of the first youth forensic workforce forum is presented. Issues included disjointed mental health care for young offenders who move between secure residences, concerns about over- assessment of vulnerable young people, silo-ed specialist youth forensic knowledge, and a disconnected workforce. Led by a social worker, youth forensic workforce issues were addressed through the inaugural national youth forensic forum in 2018. The aim of the forum was to bring a disparate workforce together in order to improve mental health assessment experiences for young people within youth justice residences. This initiative was grounded in social work approaches of Māori responsivity, networking, ecological systems and relational practice.

CONCLUSION: Social workers have an important role in advocating for, and effecting, system change. The process for doing so within the youth forensic forum is presented. Social workers in all fields of practice are encouraged to consider how they work to make systems more responsive to the people they serve.


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How to Cite

Appleby, J. (2020). Social work and service improvement: An example from the first youth forensic forum. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 32(1), 86–91.