As a detention youth worker, you will have the opportunity to support and mentor young people to make positive changes to their lives and become productive members of their community. You will be a member of a multi-disciplinary team of diverse individuals who work together in Queensland's youth detention centres to improve the lives of young people and support each other.

Many young people in detention have experienced trauma, which can result in a range of complex behaviours including physical aggression. Being able to de-escalate situations and use reasonable force as required is an important skill you will learn.

As a detention youth worker, you will support young people in detention who are separated from their family, friends and community.

You will ensure that young people are engaged in constructive activities including:

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

You don't need formal qualifications to become a detention youth worker. We will provide training during your induction program.

To be a detention youth worker you must be eligible to work in Australia and have a blue card to work with children.

What it takes to be a detention youth worker

  • Passion and empathy – the willingness to work with young people while setting boundaries and supporting them to become responsible members of the community
  • Commitment and resilience – the ability to adapt and manage challenging situations and behaviour. Young people in detention are often impacted by trauma, neurodiversity, mental health issues and substance abuse. This can result in complex behaviours
  • Life skills and experience – the ability to encourage young people to make good choices by promoting and reinforcing positive behaviour and being a role model
  • Verbal and written communication – the ability to communicate sensitively and effectively using oral and written communication skills
  • Teamwork – the ability to contribute and participate constructively and positively within a team environment
  • Physical capability – the ability to demonstrate a level of fitness, strength, flexibility, balance and stability

What the role requires

As a detention youth worker, you'll be required to:

  • do shift work and be able to balance a 12-hour rotational shift work roster with family and other personal commitments
  • be able to remain in a secure environment for the duration of your shift, with restrictions on items that are permitted in the centre.

Recruitment process

Vacancies are advertised on SmartJobs.

Online application

Complete your online application through SmartJobs. You will need to submit your resume and responses to 3 questions:

  1. Why do you want to be a detention youth worker?
  2. Detention youth workers are required to engage with a be positive role models to young people in detention. Why do you think you would be a good fit for this role and what transferable work or life experience do you have that you would bring to the role?
  3. This role may require you to use force (physical restraint) on young people for their own protection of others and/or property. You will be trained in the approved use of force techniques. Do you anticipate any difficulties or have concerns (e.g. physical, other issues) with undertaking this aspect of the role? Please briefly outline the reason for your response.

The recruitment team will review your application and assess it against benchmarks.

Online psychometric assessment

Next, you will be invited to undertake an online psychometric assessment. This assessment will take up to an hour to complete. We will give you up to 2 days to complete this assessment. It will help us to determine your suitability for the role.

Assessment centre

After the online psychometric assessment, we may invite you to go to an assessment centre where you will participate in some individual and group activities with other applicants. This will take approximately 3 hours.

Medical assessment

You will be asked to make an appointment with our medical provider to have a pre-employment medical and functional fitness assessment. The department pays for the assessment.

Reference checks

At this point, we will start doing reference checks. You should let your referees know that you have applied to be a detention youth worker.

At least one of your referees should have a thorough knowledge of your work over the past 2 years as your manager or supervisor.

Where possible, one of your referees should be someone who is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander who can talk about your cultural capabilities.

Review and offers of employment

The selection panel will review everything you have done in the recruitment process and what your referees have said.

If you receive an offer of employment, you will be asked to do a first aid and CPR course or provide a copy of your qualification.

Induction training

If we offer you a job, you will start with paid induction training. We will give you at least 3 weeks' notice before your induction training starts.

We will give you 6 to 7 weeks of induction training. This training is held Monday to Friday and includes:

  • classroom-based learning
  • communication and verbal/physical de-escalation scenarios
  • on-the-job shadow shifts
  • follow up training if you need it.

A significant portion of the Induction Program (2 weeks) is devoted to learning Communication and Resolution Techniques (CART). This is hands on physical training where you will learn how to manage difficult situations, with a view to ensuring the safety of all people in the youth detention centre.

You need to go to all the training and pass written and practical tests.

You must meet all competencies and standards in the induction training.

We will provide ongoing training and development opportunities. Detention Youth Workers need to be able to call upon the knowledge and capabilities they gain through this induction program throughout their work.

Probation period

A probation period of 6 months applies to newly appointed detention youth workers.

Contact us

If you would like to talk to someone about becoming a detention youth worker or have questions about the recruitment process, you can contact the recruitment team at

Last updated 5 April 2024

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