Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Detention youth worker

Detention youth workers help young people in detention have a safe and secure living environment while separated from their family, friends and community.

We are seeking staff who can deliver activities that are sensitive to:

  • gender
  • cultural beliefs
  • health needs.

Detention youth workers engage young people in constructive activities including:

  • cultural programs
  • educational programs
  • therapeutic programs
  • vocational programs.

They also help young people integrate back into the community.

Desired qualifications and capabilities


You don't need a formal qualification to become a detention youth worker, but a Certificate IV or Diploma in Youth Justice or Youth Work is highly desirable.


We value detention youth workers who can be positive role models for young people. We consider everyone's life experience and criminal history on a case-by-case basis.

When reviewing candidates for employment, we take into consideration:

  • paid or voluntary youth-related work experience
  • work with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people
  • knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultures
  • work with people with a disability
  • work with people from different ethnic backgrounds
  • knowledge and understanding of the youth justice system
  • contribution to your local community, including volunteer experience.

Successful detention youth workers are:

  • patient and positive
  • professional and courteous
  • resourceful and resilient
  • supportive and understanding
  • good communicators
  • respectful team players
  • able to cope with a physically-challenging work environment.

Additional requirements

To become a detention youth worker you must:

  • have a current senior first aid/apply first aid certificate or be enrolled to get one
  • have a Blue Card to work with children, or be eligible to get one
  • be eligible to work in Australia.

Recruitment process

Detention youth worker vacancies are advertised on Smart Jobs. The steps of our recruitment process are outlined below.

After each stage of the process you will be told if you have passed and are able to continue to the next assessment.

1. Written application

The ad on Smart Jobs will include a detention youth worker role description.

In your written application, you should outline how you meet the responsibilities of being a detention youth worker.

Your application also requires a resume that includes:

  • your contact details
  • work history
  • education and training
  • names and contact details of 2 referees (at least 1 must be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is recognised and accepted within the community).

We will consider your written application, and contact you if you need to get a medical assessment.

2. Medical assessment

Detention youth workers need to be psychologically strong, physically fit and mentally alert. We require all applicants to have a medical assessment. This will check that you meet the health requirements of the job.

Medical assessments are performed by Unified Health Group.

Your medical examination will take about 1 hour. You will be weighed, measured and given a general health check-up. You will also need to do some basic movements like squatting and balancing.

The doctor will match your results against the job's requirements. This will include:

  • heart health indicators
  • body mass index (a body mass index of under 40 and a waist measurement of under 88cm for women and 100cm for men)
  • medical conditions (including high blood pressure, asthma, epilepsy and diabetes) and medication use
  • vision
  • hearing
  • psychological health
  • musculoskeletal health
  • lifestyle factors.

After we receive your medical report, we will contact you if you need to proceed to fitness testing.

3. Fitness testing

Detention youth workers need above-average fitness, strength, flexibility, balance and stability. To demonstrate this, you will need to complete the following fitness test within 4 minutes.

Run and step-up loop

This test simulates how you would need to respond to an emergency on the other side of the centre. You will need to:

  1. run a 100m circuit of a basketball court
  2. complete 10 step-ups (1 step-up = 1 step-up and 1 step-down)
  3. repeat circuit and step-up loop 3 times.

Time: 1.5 to 2 minutes.

Preparation: Stretch and warm up before attempting exercise. Practice running 100m circuits with 10 step-ups using a regular step that is 15 to 20cm high.

Stand and drop drill

This test simulates the physical demands of an emergency situation where you are required to manage the physical behaviour of a young person. Using a gym mat, you will need to:

  1. stand and drop to a kneel position
  2. immediately drop flat onto your stomach with arms spread away from your body
  3. push up into a standing position with arms out to the side
  4. repeat 10 times without stopping.

Time: 45 to 60 seconds.

Preparation: Stretch and warm up before attempting exercise. Perform the stand and drop rhythmically, using as few extra movements as possible.

Agility run

This run tests your agility. You will need to react quickly during a typical shift interacting with young people and navigating through the centre as movements in this time can often be random and unplanned. You will need to:

  1. weave through a 14m line of 7 traffic cones set 2m apart
  2. run back, jumping over each traffic cone without touching them
  3. complete this course twice.

Time: 40 seconds.

Preparation: Lay out 7 obstacles evenly over a 14m distance and perform the agility run.

Dummy drag and radio crawl

This test simulates dragging an unconscious person 20m to safety, followed by a short escort simulation and voice command. It confirms that you are able to call for assistance after significant physical activity. You will need to:

  1. stoop over (protecting your lower back) and grip a 70kg dummy using the shoulder straps provided
  2. walk backwards, dragging the dummy for a distance of 20m
  3. put the dummy down, and escort a test administrator (playing the role of a young person) approximately 2 to 3m to the finish line
  4. simulate a radio call for assistance.

Time: 15 to 20 seconds.

Preparation: If safe, perform this test by dragging a similar weighted item. Be careful to protect your lower back during this exercise. Do not bend your back; use your legs to pull the weight. You will be given a demonstration and some warm ups to assist you on the day.

If you pass the fitness test, we will contact you for applicant profiling.

4. Applicant profiling

Detention youth workers need to be able to learn new information, work well with others, solve problems and show good judgement.

To test your skills in these areas, you will need to complete ability and personality tests through SAFESELECT. You will not receive feedback on your test results.

If your test results match the detention youth worker personality profile, we will contact you for an interview.

5. Interview

Your interview will help us to find out more about how you would deal with the demands of being a detention youth worker. You will be interviewed by a panel of 3 people and will take about an hour.

You will have to complete some paperwork before your interview and show us your Blue Card (or your application for one).

After the interview we will rank applicants on how well we think they are suited to the role. We will also perform reference and criminal history checks on all candidates before we consider employing them.

Starting your role

Induction training

If you are successful and we offer you a job, you will begin your role with paid induction training. You will have 5 to 7 weeks of classroom training. This training is held Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm. You need to go to all the training and pass written and practical tests.

After that you will start on-the-job training, including buddy shifts (shifts where you work with another detention youth worker). Your induction training will continue with on-the-job assessments and follow up training if required.

You must meet all competencies and standards in the induction training, before you are confirmed in the role.

We will provide ongoing training and development opportunities.

Probation period

A minimum probation period of 6 months will apply for permanent detention youth worker positions.