Whitelion Youth Justice Q&A

Unpacking The Youth Justice System – Detention & Rehabilitation: What’s The Right Balance?

Youth justice issues always make headlines with supposed 'African gangs crisis’, riots in youth detention centres and allegations of mistreatment of detainees across the country. Yet rarely does the public get the chance to question the system itself.

Our youth justice system currently offers both detention and rehabilitation elements – the question is whether the balance is right.

Modelled on ABC TV’s Q&A program, the inaugural Whitelion’s youth justice Q&A is set to dive deep, raise the level of understanding and discussion in the community, and possibly even find better solutions.

Moderated by legendary crime writer John Silvester, the event includes a keynote speech by Professor James Ogloff and esteemed panellists from government, academia and community organisations across Victoria.

Join us for what promises to be a compelling, likely entertaining and definitely thought-provoking evening.

When: Monday 21 May, 6-8:30pm

Where: NAB Auditorium, 700 Bourke St Docklands

Donation: $20/$10 concession (includes refreshments and networking)

Welcome Address:

Mark Watt AM - CEO & Co-Founder, Whitelion

Mark Watt is the CEO and co-founder of Whitelion. Throughout his long career Mark has given thousands of young people the pride, courage and opportunities to change their lives - both at Whitelion and before.

His passion and commitment for young offenders was born from his direct experiences, including senior management roles at Melbourne Youth Justice Centre, Anglicare and Youth for Christ. Mark is the Chair of St Kilda Gatehouse and a board member of the ‘First Step’ Program. He was awarded the Robin Clark Memorial Award in 2005 for excellence in 'Making a Difference to Children, Young People and Families'. and also appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2018 "for significant service to the community, particularly to disadvantaged and at-risk youth, through social welfare support organisations". Mark holds a Masters in Social Work and a Bachelor of Business.



John Silvester - Award-winning crime writer

John Silvester is a Walkley Award winner and Victoria’s most experienced crime reporter. He has published crime books that have sold more than 1 million copies in Australia and won numerous industry awards for print, radio, television and on-line reporting, including a Ned Kelly lifetime achievement award. John’s work was adapted into the top rating Underbelly television series shown on Channel Nine and he has acted as presenter in a series of critically acclaimed television crime documentaries. John has also given evidence in Royal Commissions on crime and corruption. He is the currently senior crime reporter for The Age and writes the popular Naked City column

Keynote address:

Professor James Ogloff - Forensic Expert

Trained as a lawyer and psychologist, James R. P. Ogloff, J.D., Ph.D., is Foundation Professor and Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University. He is also Executive Director of Psychological Services and Research at Forensicare, the statewide forensic mental health service in Victoria. Professor Ogloff is a prolific author and has extensive academic and clinical experience working across youth justice, corrections and forensic mental health. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015.  Recently Professor Ogloff co-authored the first comprehensive independent review of Victoria’s youth justice system in 17 years, which will be the subject of his keynote address.


Liana Buchanan - Prinicpal Commissioner for Children and Young People, Victoria

As well as being Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana is part-time Commissioner of the Victorian Law Reform Commission. Her past roles include Director, Office of Correctional Services Review, where she monitored Victoria's prisons, Executive Officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, and as a lawyer at agencies including the Women's Legal Service and the Equal Opportunity Commission. Liana has strengthened the Commission for Children and Young People's oversight of youth justice centres: amongst other initiatives, the Commission has conducted a systemic inquiry into the use of isolation and lockdowns in youth justice centres and several individual inquiries into alleged misconduct against children in youth justice, and oversees community volunteers who visit children and young people in youth justice to raise concerns on their behalf.

Jilly Field - National Pro Bono Manager for Ashurst Australia

Jilly is the national pro bono manager for Ashurst Australia and an ambassador for Whitelion. Prior to becoming a dedicated pro bono lawyer, Jilly practiced as a senior lawyer for a strategic animal rights program, a defence lawyer for children in juvenile justice and a commercial litigator for a large firm. Jilly has a particular focus on developing strategic solutions to address unmet legal need through law reform. Although Jilly is no longer working directly with children in the criminal justice system, her deep interest remains as a result of spending time with detained children during a secondment to the Aboriginal Legal Services. Jilly is a regular speaker for Whitelion.

Dr Emma Ryan - Criminology Expert

Emma is a Teaching Scholar and Course Director of the Bachelor of Criminology at Deakin University where she teaches Criminology Theory focussing on explanations for and evidence-based responses to youth crime.  Prior to this, Emma worked as Corruption Prevention Officer at Victoria’s IBAC and at the Office of Police Integrity. Emma also spent several years as a consultant in Melbourne University’s Criminology Research and Evaluation Unit where she was involved in evaluating a range of post-release support programs for young offenders. She has taught criminology at several Victorian Universities and understands the experiences of young people interfacing with the criminal justice system and the changing patterns of youth offending (and responses to offending) across Australia.

Andrew Crisp - Deputy Commissioner, Regional Operations, Victoria Police

Andrew has more than 39 years’ experience in a range of operational, project and specialist roles within Victoria Police and overseas, including working with the Royal PNG Constabulary and the UN in East Timor, managing the Counter Terrorism Coordination Unit and leading the establishment of the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency. He was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Regional Operations portfolio in 2015, and is passionate about engaging young people in the community. Andrew has a Masters of Leadership and Management and was awarded the Australia Police Medal in 2012.

Selba Gondoza Luka - Founder and Director, Afri-Aus Care

Malawian-born Selba Gondoza Luka is a Mental Health Clinician specialising in at-risk youth within the African and CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities. Inspired by her own experiences of domestic abuse and the long process of repairing a relationship with her own daughter, Selba founded Afri-Aus Care in 2015. Passionate about breaking the youth-prison cycle, and stopping intergenerational conflict, Selba has helped many troubled and fractured families. In 2016, along with Jamy Alex, she founded the Black Rhino’s Peregrine Falcons Basketball Club which has worked with young people both inside and outside of prisons, helping them forge more positive relationships with their families and the broader community, especially Victoria Police.

Leah Tolley - Managing Lawyer, Balit Ngulu

Leah Tolley commenced her career as a lawyer in Shepparton in 2007 in criminal, civil, family and child protection matters, and was seconded to the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) in 2009. During that time she appeared in courts across the state as an advocate for both young and older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. Leah helped launch Balit Ngulu – a specialist Aboriginal Children’s Legal Service - in July 2017. She is now the Managing Lawyer of this intensive service that supports indigenous children before, during and after their criminal or child protection matters are heard in the Koori or Children’s courts of Victoria.

Hayden Bradford - Founder, Protect Victoria

Hayden started Protect Victoria, a closed Facebook group with over 35, 500 members, after being impacted by the Bourke Street Massacre. Protect Victoria consists of concerned Victorian citizens "who are appalled at the Victorian Government's and the Victorian judicial system's unwillingness to deal with the offenders of violent crime in accordance with 'community expectations’’ and to take better care of victims. Ex-stockman, ex-military, ex-corporate and now a private share market investor, Hayden has written a book entitled ‘Travesty’ which is currently being made into a movie in the United Kingdom.

Kel Glare - Chairman, Community Advocacy Alliance

Kelvin Glare is a lawyer and former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police from 1987-1992.  He received many awards for his police work, including the Order of Australia and Australian Police Medal [APM] for distinguished service.  As well as consulting, Kelvin is now Chairman of the Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA), a political lobby group of former senior police and leading citizens concerned with victims’ rights. The CAA is working to change the systems, practices and policies of the Victoria Police and criminal justice system to deliver better outcomes for those affected by serious crimes. Kelvin regularly talks to political parties and the media.