COLLABORATION, early intervention and keeping young offenders out of detention are hallmarks of a new youth court system set to operate in Launceston, Tasmania's Deputy Chief Magistrate Michael Daly says.
Mr Daly was appointed the special children's magistrate when the Hobart youth justice court pilot started in 2011.
The use of a single magistrate to preside over all youth matters is seen as critical in providing consistency and context in the sentencing of minors.
"That magistrate gets to know the background and the circumstance of each of the young people and gets a better understanding of the circumstances of each of the young people," said Lisa Cuatt, program manager of Save the Children, which runs a diversionary program connected to the court.
The various agencies often involved with a young offender - from child protection and youth justice to the Education Department - have in the past acted with minimal collaboration.
This prompted criticism that Tasmania's youth justice regime was "siloed".
A key plank of the youth court has been to bring the agencies together in the courtroom.
"It's the degree of collaboration between government and non- government agencies which is where the magic is if you like," Mr Daly said.
"Once the court has all these people in the room providing information at the one time it's much easier.
"It's enormously rewarding to know that the case before you is subject to close attention by agencies and individuals."
In complex cases where the offender is deemed vulnerable - usually due to drug and alcohol or mental health issues - the court takes a different approach to sentencing.
"We acknowledge that sending a youth to detention doesn't always achieve what the community wants it to achieve," Mr Daly said.
"So if ever that can be avoided you do it and that's what the Youth Justice Act requires."
When a sentence of detention is likely a plan will be developed between the agencies and the offender.
Sentencing is then deferred to enable offenders "to demonstrate that they are committed to rehabilitating themselves ... so the court can see there is an alternative to detention".
"Rehabilitation is essentially what it's all about," he said.
Save the Children's Supporting Young People on Bail program is also brought on board to help the offender "re-engage" with recreation, education or job training.
"It's trying to hook young people up with positive opportunities in the community and for a lot of young people that is all they need to start a new trajectory and move away from the youth justice system," Ms Cuatt said.
"We have to remind ourselves we are dealing with children, it's an opportune time to work with them before behaviour and attitudes become really entrenched."
One area where the pilot's evaluation report suggested collaboration could be in improved was with the Department of Health and Human Service's drugs and alcohol service.
The report found the lack of formal and regular involvement by the service "impeded the court's capacity for interventions for young offenders" with drug problems.
Mr Daly said it was a policy decision for the government but a mandated involvement for drug counselling and treatment services had been shown to be effective in some cases in other jurisdictions.
The youth court is due to begin in Launceston next year under Magistrate Tim Hill.
Ms Cuatt said Save the Children was eager to be involved if it attracted the necessary funding.