Ep. 6: Music therapy in the youth justice system: Interviews with Dr Natalia Henley and Rachael Comte (RMT)

We're bringing you a very special episode that features not just one, but two guest speakers who will be sharing their insights into the youth justice system.

Recently, there has been a lot of media attention and public interest around the topic of young people in prison. How do we as a society view and treat incarcerated people? And how do we enforce laws whilst ensuring that people are treated with dignity and respect? We believe that alternative therapies, like music therapy, can support the health and wellbeing of young people in prison, and with this belief in tow we sought out the knowledge of two professionals working in this field.

You'll first hear a telephone interview with Dr Natalia Hanley, who is a senior lecturer of criminology at the University of Woollongong. Dr Natalia gives us a broad overview of how the system is currently working, and highlights the vulnerabilities of many of the young people who are in the youth justice system.


"... More than 40% of young people in youth custody in Victoria have some previous child protection involvement ... 60% of them have been victims of abuse, neglect or trauma. And we know that these young people in general are over represented not just in youth justice statistics but in victimisation statistics as well so they're also the most vulnerable people in our society ..."


In the second half of the podcast, you'll hear from Rachael Comte who is a registered music therapist and a VET music teacher within a youth justice centre. Rachael explains her work and really drives home the value of music therapy in this context. Interestingly, the way Rachael describes her work quite beautifully mirrors Dr Natalia's beliefs on how we can improve the youth justice system.

"... What is working? What is important for these kids? The measure of whether something is working is whether or not these boys feel safe, whether they feel happy, and whether they feel confident and capable...
You can see it in their eyes and in their facial expressions, that they've done something that they're really proud of ... something shifts, and that means that something is working ..."