juvenile justice centres

The ACMF believe that it is critical to create an outlet for youth in detention to express themselves in a positive way, to engage with each other and their teachers in a co-operative, creative environment that will enhance their self-esteem ability to make a positive contribution to society. Weekly programs are held in detention centres across Australia, mentoring these young men and women through the magic of music. The classes are smaller than the school programs but the impact is still huge. We have many examples of detainees who are now on release and enrolled in training programs for the music industry such as audio engineering.



Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre

Adelaide Youth Training Centre Flexicentre

Alice Springs Juvenile Detention Centre 

Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Banksia Hill Detention Centre

Cleveland Youth Detention Centre

Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre

Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre

Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre

Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct

Parkville Youth Justice Precinct

Reiby Juvenile Justice Centre

Wandoo Reintegration Facility






- Mental health benefits
- Reduce recidivism
- Engagement with learning
- Improve literacy and numeracy
- Incentive for good behaviour


These weekly sessions have proven to reduce aggression, self-harm, violence and negativity and to enhance creative expression, self esteem and positivity. Given the relatively small size of these classes, the mentoring is exceptionally powerful, making an observable impact on the young men and women involved. Youth are taught many different aspects of creativity and musical expression, including songwriting, performance and recording. Through these mentoring sessions and musical therapy, many of the youth when released, go on to become enrolled in training programs for the Australian music industry.


ACMF Programs contribute to our students' moral and social development.  Through successful learning experiences and the opportunity to contribute to a team, students gain a deeper understanding of the nature and purpose of their lives and how they can make a positive contribution to society.  The increased self-esteem and faith in their own ability following participation in the ACMF program is clearly visible even in the initial stages of the program.  Our students benefit from the respect that is generated within their peer group as a result of their work together as a tam.  This is a direct result of the respect the Banton Brothers extend to the girls fostering a collaborative, creative environment contusive to the production of quality music and self-expression.                                                        

James Opie, Principal at Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre, NSW


The physiological benefits of participants involved in the ACMF program include stress release, motivation, improved emotional and cognitive skills, including self esteem and problem solving.

Shane Stanton, Principal at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, TAS


95% of the boys I’ve taught have not come back into the centres!
Tom Soteriou, Cavan Youth Education Centre, Magill Remand Centre, SA

Case Study: Cleveland Youth Detention Centre, Townsville QLD
‘There has been some noticeable improvement in engagement with other programs – the high expectation sin the singing program have spilt over into other areas, noticeably literacy where students are demonstrating higher confidence and commitment to their classroom activities. Teamwork in the recording room is of a very high standard and this can be attributed to the singing program as the boys have been taught to not only to focus on their own development but also to listen to others and provide supportive feedback.’ John Goodson, Teacher Creative Industries, Cleveland Youth Detention Centre, Townsville QLD  
Case study: Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre
Click here to listen to "Chris Smith Afternoons" on Juvenile Justice Centres.

One of the students at the Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre really took to music during his ACMF music sessions with teacher Dave Johnson and as a result, after taking part in the music program for eight months, he has been offered a place at a music college in Perth.

Dave had been teaching him from beginner guitar level and found him incredibly receptive.

According to Dave, he displayed a strong passion for music... We started with basic chord shapes and 2-3 chord songs, but I was very surprised how quickly we moved to scales and riffs. Any song from Fitzroy Express, Warumpi Band or Archie Roach he would absorb like a sponge till he had mastered them. He would then go about helping me with the other kids in the class.

A gorgeous kid and pleasure to work with. I was overjoyed when he was accepted into the Abmusic certificate 2 course. Being able to present him with an ACMF guitar pack was a truly humbling experience, knowing it was going to a kid who most likely would not have the opportunity to own his own guitar and knowing it was going to be played as much I play my own.
Case Study: Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre
The ACMF were delighted to receive the below letter from a young man who feels fortunate to have benefitted from the musical programs:

My name is John Falvo. I was a detainee at Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice centre where I became involved in the ACMF music program. The program gave me my first introduction to musical theory, recording and editing software and inspired me to continue further involvement in music upon my release.

Once I was released I came into contact with the ACMF. It is now over a year since my release and I am studying audio engineering and playing the piano. I have plans to become involved in the ACMF program at Baxter once my parole period is complete. This program was a great confidence booster to myself and gave me and education I may not have gained had I not been incarcerated.

The program offers those involved new skills and confidence in a time in their lives where they are more prone to negative influences than positive.
Case study: Bimberi Youth Justice Centre
Three young men who were part of ACMF ‘Youth at Risk’ program at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre (ACT) have gone from end of year concerts for their peers to performing before special guests like the former ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope and Jessica Mauboy!

They entered Triple J’s “Unearthed” competition with a song they wrote whilst at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre. The song is about child soldiers and the blood diamond trade in Sierra Leone.

Click here to listen to their song ‘For Afrika’.

Click here to listen to the interview with ACMF teacher, Ian Pav and one of the songwriters. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvENteCg7kE[/youtube]
Case Study: Shepherds Park, Wagga Wagga
Cheyne Halloran, the ACMF music teacher at Shepherds Park, the Juvenile Justice Centre in Wagga Wagga, is a man of many talents.

As well as teaching music at Shepherds Park and performing locally in Wagga and nearby towns, this year he translated the National Anthem into Ngunnawal, the language of the indigenous people whose lands encompassed Canberra and the surrounding area, and performed it for the crowds gathered on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin on Australia Day.

Click here to a listen to this inspirational clip. Arrangement and recording owned by Out There Productions Australia.
Stuart Alexander supports Youth at Risk
To be offered the opportunity to attend a Juvenile Justice Centre, and witness first hand the Youth at Risk music program was an experience I think will stick with me for life. To say it was unique and rewarding is an understatement!

When the 6 boys who were attending the music class entered the music room, you could sense that some were excited to be there (previous participants) and others were very unsure (were new). It was an interesting dynamic initially. The music teachers handled the dynamic with professionalism, care, and experience. They promoted active involvement of the 6 students from the outset. I was amazed to see how quickly the participants engaged with the teachers and music. The change in mood from when they entered the room subdued to the joy and active involvement at the end of the session was remarkable. I witnessed first hand the motivation, will to succeed, listening skills, self-confidence, glee all participants projected.

When you experience the Music program at a Juvenile Justice Centre, it is visibly clear what a valuable and significant impact the music program makes to offenders in helping them find themselves and build self-esteem. At Juvenile Justice Centres young offenders experience isolation, uncertainty and fear; the music program run through ACMF has all the hallmarks of what ACMF attempts to achieve for young people allow music to break barriers and build confidence.

Sarah Scott-Paul.