Our journey developing Wirkara Kulpa

Wirkara Kulpa (the Strategy) is the first Aboriginal youth justice strategy in Victoria - it has been developed with the wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people at its heart.

It is a strategy written for and by Aboriginal children and young people and captures the aspirations and changes Aboriginal children and young people want to see in a culturally safe and responsive youth justice system. It is also a strategy that is focused on supporting Aboriginal children and young people so they remain outside the youth justice system and can live culturally rich lives.

It has been led by the Aboriginal Justice Caucus, under the umbrella of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement, and is a key initiative of Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja (AJA4), and the Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2020-2030 (External link).

Like Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja (AJA4), the Strategy aims to further the principle of self-determination and is another important step towards meeting the joint Aboriginal community and Victorian Government commitment to improving justice outcomes for Aboriginal people and closing the gap in the rate of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people under Youth Justice supervision by 2031.

It has been developed in parallel with the Koori Youth Justice Taskforce and responds to 56 recommendations of the combined report from the Taskforce and the Our Youth Our Way (2021) Inquiry led by the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People.

The Strategy was developed and led from the outset by the Aboriginal Justice Caucus. This process commenced with a planning workshop in 2018 where Caucus outlined their aspirations for, and approach to, creating Victoria’s first Aboriginal youth justice strategy. Figure 1 is a visual representation of Caucus’ plan developed on that day.

Figure 1: Our journey to develop the Aboriginal Youth Justice Strategy

Source: Weinstein, L (2018), Outlook on an Aboriginal Youth Justice Strategy: outcomes and aspirations for a self-determined justice response, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) prepared for the Aboriginal Justice
Caucus and the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

View Figure 1: Our journey to develop the Aboriginal Youth Justice Strategy in full screen. (External link)


The ambition is that this strategy will be used to influence legislation, systemic reform and inform Treaty through a youth perspective. 


The purpose of this strategy is to ensure that the young voices who are silenced by incarceration and stigma are heard, valued and acted upon to lead the next generation.

  • Empower young people and community to uphold change.
  • Increase cultural safety in the current justice system.
  • Reduce over representation.
  • Work toward an Aboriginal-led justice response.

Ways of working

This strategy aims to hold everyone accountable to Aboriginal measures of success and ensure that all Aboriginal children are supported to thrive by:

  1. Taking Aboriginal control of reform. drive change and achieve outcomes for the future generations
  2. Supporting community to take control created change for our young people and families at all levels, legislation, policy and practice
  3. Creating the authorising environment for Aboriginal people to change legislation and policies, acts to truly impact on justice outcomes and life changes for young people.
  4. Upholding and demonstrating Cultural integrity
  5. Including all sectors as well as community, youth and Elders. 

Who uses it

This strategy is for people across the Victorian Government systems as well as Aboriginal Community Organisations and leadership.

  • Cross sector government departments
  • Parliament (legislation)
  • youth services sector
  • universal services
  • Courts 
  • Police 
  • Aboriginal Justice Caucus
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Fairness, Families and Housing
  • young people 
  • ACCOs
  • politicians.

Our shared vision

This Strategy does not walk alone – it shares its vision with other strategies that have been developed in partnership between Aboriginal Victorians and the Victorian Government, for example Wungurilwil Gapgapduir, Korin Korin Balit Djak, Murrung, Dhelk Dja and Ballit Murrup (see Figure 2).

This Strategy also contributes to the Partnership Agreement to Closing the Gap 2019-2029. It covers commitments in the Victorian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan to achieve the national youth justice target.

The Strategy will continue to evolve in line with other significant Victorian reforms such as the Yoorrook Justice Commission, and the Victorian treaty process in line with the aspirations of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

It also has links to the Victorian Government’s new Crime Prevention Strategy which partners with communities and key organisations to deliver innovative solutions that address the underlying causes of offending and improve community safety.

Figure 2: Other Victorian Government frameworks with a shared vision and outcomes

View Figure 2: Other Victorian Government frameworks with a shared vision and outcomes in full screen. (External link)

Korin-Korin Balit Djak Aboriginal health, wellbeing and safety strategic plan 2017–2027

  • Aboriginal Victorians are connected to culture, Country and community.
  • Aboriginal Victorians have stable, secure and appropriate housing.
  • Aboriginal children and families are thriving and empowered.
  • Aboriginal Victorians are resilient and have optimal e optimal social and emotional and emotional wellbeing.

Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan 2016–2026

  • Koorie children and learners of all en and learners of all ages are strong in their identity.
  • Koorie students engage fully throughout their schooling years.
  • Koorie learners transition successfully into further education and development.
  • Koorie people have opportunities to access at all stages of life.

Balit Murrup Social and Emotional Wellbeing Framework 2017– 2027

  • Strengthening access to culturally responsive social and emotional wellbeing and mental health services.
  • Promotion of trauma-informed services.
  • Expansion of Aboriginal social and emotional Expansion of Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and alcohol and drug workforce.

Wungurilwil Gapgapduir Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement 2018

  • Vision: All Aboriginal children and young people are safe, resilient, thriving and living in culturally rich, strong Aboriginal families and communities.
  • Aim: Eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal child Aboriginal children in Child Protection and ection and out-of-home care, and reduce the number of those that p number of those that progress to Youth Justice Youth Justice.

Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja

  • Vision: Aboriginal people have access to an equitable justice system that is shaped by self-determination, and protects and upholds their human, civil, legal and cultural rights. al rights.
  • Our aspirations:
    • culturally strong and safe families and communities.
    • fewer Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system.
    • an Aboriginal community controlled justice sector.
    • self-determination in the justice sector.

Dhelk Dja Safe Our Way: Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families Agreement 2018–2028

  • Aboriginal people are culturally strong, safe and self-determining, with families and communities living free from violence
  • Aboriginal people experiencing family experiencing family violence have access to community-led information, options and supports to make informed choices that promote their safety, wellbeing 
  • The critical importance of Aboriginal culture as a protective factor against or against violence is violence is recognised

Victorian Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy 2013–2020

  • Increased labour force participation.
  • Strong communities and families that support young people to aspire to education and economic success.
  • Young Aboriginal people complete education with the skills to gain employment.
  • More access to a greater diversity of jobs across all sectors.