Radicalised Youth Offenders: Vulnerability or Risk?

Mr Steve Barracosa1, Mr James March

1Youth Justice Nsw, Sydney, Australia

The Australian Government has become increasingly concerned about the risks posed to national security by at-risk and radicalised youth (Renwick, 2018; AFP, 2021; ASIO, 2021). This includes a small cohort of youth convicted of terrorism related offences and an increasingly complex cohort of those that are deemed at-risk. Radicalisation literature and countering violent extremism policy is however generally focused on adults. Enduring questions subsequently remain in relation to what we know about the process of youth radicalisation, and what lessons have been learned to prevent it.

This presentation will provide practice-based reflections from the Youth Justice New South Wales Countering Violent Extremism Unit. The Unit was formed in 2018 and is designed to implement client-focused approaches to early identification, diversionary, and disengagement-based interventions for at-risk and radicalised youth offenders. This presentation will explore observed trends in relation to the process of youth radicalisation. This includes the interaction between life-course experiences, developmental vulnerabilities, and exposure to environmental factors that promote extremism. This presentation will also explore the youth-specific CVE legislative landscape in New South Wales. At-risk and radicalised youth pose notable challenges for practitioners. They also represent a cohort of great potential. There is however a lot to learn.


Biography:

Steve Barracosa is the Senior Manager of the YJNSW CVE Unit. He is a Psychologist and a PhD Candidate at the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. Steve’s area of research is juvenile radicalisation and violent extremism risk assessment. He is a certified user and accredited trainer of the VERA-2R tool and a number of additional violent extremism risk assessment measures. Steve is a court appointment expert for CVE proceedings in the NSW Children’s Court and has experience in the development and implementation of CVE services in both youth and adult criminal justice settings.

James March is a Senior Forensic Psychologist with YJNSW. He has a Masters of Terrorism and Security Studies. James is a certified user of the VERA-2R tool and a number of additional violent extremism risk assessment measures. He has experience in the development and implementation of CVE services in youth justice settings.