Young Adult List

Supporting young adults through court and toward pathways out of the justice system

The Young Adult List is an approach to the District Court for 18 to 25 year olds. The List makes some changes to standard court processes and connects young adults with community supports who can help them through court and possibly beyond.

The goal is that all young adults and their supports, no matter what background, understand what is happening in court and feel understood by those making decisions about them.

How did the Young Adult List come about?

There have been many longstanding calls for change to the justice system.

The Principal Youth Court Judge, Judge Walker drew attention to the fact that young adults don’t suddenly ‘grow out of’ the struggles and circumstances that bring youth into the justice system. He suggested that our District Courts can better support young adults and address the drivers of offending by using what works in the Youth Court and other therapeutic courts.

Preventing young people from getting stuck in the justice system will help reduce cycles of harm and support them to reach their potential.

What happens in the Young Adult List?

Young adults and their support people are acknowledged and welcomed, treated with respect and understanding, and given a voice during proceedings.

The Judge and the court team work together to find solutions that will help the young adult address their offending, while taking their wider circumstances into account. Relationships between the court and community services will be strengthened over time, so young adults can be referred to the right services and support for them.

If you are a defendant aged 18 to 25

We have created a handbook to explain the List to you. It has answers to common questions and says what some words used at court mean. It is available in standard [PDF, 536 KB] font and dyslexic [PDF, 21 MB] font.

If you want to know more about the court process, you can view the information here.

If you are a victim

If you are a victim of someone appearing in the Young Adult List, you, and your support people, are acknowledged, treated with respect, and given a voice. A Court Victim Advisor(external link) will generally contact you after the young adult’s first appearance. You can:

  • attend any court hearing, where people will speak in a way which is easier for everyone to understand
  • apply to read your Victim Impact Statement at sentencing
  • choose to be involved in a restorative justice conference
  • be informed about the young adult’s progress through their court case
  • be informed about what support is available.

The Young Adult List recognises that victims have a right to feel safe and supported during court proceedings. If you want more information, you can view this factsheet here [PDF, 124 KB] or go to the victims info website(external link).

If you are working in the Young Adult List

You may need to adjust how you usually work. Some changes you will see at court are:

  • Everyone, including the Judge, speaking in plain language. If you need to use legal jargon, you will be expected to give a definition of that term.
  • Registry providing reports to the Judge, Prosecution and Defence if the young adult has Youth or Family Court history.
  • Duty Lawyers recording information about the young adult in the Duty Lawyer Checklist at first appearance. This will be given to the assigned lawyer at the second appearance.
  • Alternative courtroom layouts with Defence Lawyers standing next to the young adult they are representing.
  • Judges acknowledging and speaking directly to young adults and their whānau.

Before you begin working in the List, you should complete the education package. It has been developed to provide information to help you feel informed and prepared. The education package includes training modules on important elements of the Young Adult List, such as plain language and supporting resources.

You can view this education package here(external link).

The Ministry have also developed Operating Guidelines to provide a central point of information about the List. This document creates a national standard for the List, but some local variances may apply to reflect the court and community needs. This is a living document which we will update as the List develops. You can view these Guidelines here [PDF, 5.5 MB].

You may also be interested in reading the evaluation of the Young Adult List in Porirua. You can find this document here

Where is the Young Adult List happening?

The Young Adult List is currently in three courts:

The aim is that over time all District Courts will have the Young Adult List. Each court will adapt the List in ways that work for the court and the community it serves.

The Young Adult List is working alongside other important changes taking place in the justice system, such as Whakaorangia te Mana Tangata and Bail Support Services(external link). Together, these changes will help us move toward Te Ao Mārama.

For general enquiries:

Please email DesignandCommissioning@justice.govt.nz