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When I walk in the streets of the Green Square hood, 
once where old factories and warehouses stood 
Fresh apartments, just ‘cause they could

~ Green Square School students from 'Green Square, What’s Good?
 Listen to the poem >

Youth Unlocked creates tailored creative literacy programs that collaborate with poets, Elders, Language Custodians, musicians, artists and educators to help young people who are challenged by traditional educational approaches and who attend Behavioural Schools and Juvenile Justice Centres (Educational and Training Units).

Young people involved in the justice system have commonly experienced significant trauma, interrupted schooling, and are often disadvantaged in multiple and cumulative ways. Issues with literacy and difficulty with verbal expression can result in violence or risky behaviours.*

Current figures from Juvenile Justice NSW show 47% of young people in custody are from First Nations backgrounds, which is even higher than the 25% of First Nations people that comprise our adult prison population. We know that once people enter the Justice System, 60% are likely to return.*

* Data from

Youth Unlocked nurtures the potential of young people through the reflective and healing power of poetry, encouraging self-expression that helps young people find their voice, write, record, perform and share their stories to:

  • support literacy, learning and wellbeing
  • encourage confidence and engagement
  • reconnect with family and community
  • unpack shame and create space to openly share feelings


2020 Program

Coreen Special Educational School, Blacktown (with David Stavanger, Ethan Bell)
Shepherd’s Park Education and Training Unit, Wagga Wagga (with Lyndsay Urquhart)
Nowra High School ‘Links to Learning’ (with Kirli Saunders)
Oolong House Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centre (with Ethan Bell)


2019 Program

Coreen Special Educational School, Blacktown (with Kirli Saunders)
Coreen Special Educational School, Blacktown (with David Stavanger)
Green Square School (with David Stavanger)


2018 Program

Green Square School
Shepherds Park Juvenile Justice Centre


2017 Program

Green Square School
Shepherds Park Juvenile Justice Centre

Partners and Supporters

Youth Unlocked is supported by the Oranges & Sardines Foundation and the following: