Malmsbury Youth Training Centre (1965–93)


  • Auspice:Children's Welfare Department (1924–60); Social Welfare Branch of the Chief Secretary's Department (1960–71); Social Welfare Department (1971–78); Department of Community Welfare Services (1979–85); Community Services Victoria (1985–1992); Department of Health and Community Services (1992–96); Department of Human Services I (1996–2010); Department of Human Services II - without Health portfolio (2010–14); Department of Health and Human Services 2015 to current)
  • Title or Name:Malmsbury Youth Training Centre (1965–93); Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre (1993–2007); Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre (2007–15); Malmsbury Youth Justice Precinct (2015 to current)
  • Address:Calder Highway, Malmsbury 

Malmsbury Youth Training Centre history in brief

Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre - Front entrance from outside - 1990-1993

In 1965, the department opened the first stage of a new youth training centre at Malmsbury. On completion, the centre accommodated up to 150 male trainees in the 17–20-year age group in an open- to medium-security facility.

Malmsbury Youth Training Centre provided a secure residential facility and became the main centre for the department's Work Release Program for trainees.
In 1976, Malmsbury provided supervision and support to some young offenders in transition to parole.

During the mid-1970s, dormitory-style accommodation was converted to smaller units with bedroom accommodation, enhancing classification and treatment options.

In 1985, statewide redevelopment was underway towards de-centralisation and community-based alternatives, prioritising services for pre-adolescent and adolescent wards and offenders held in Turana, Winlaton and Baltara. These institutions continued to operate in the short term, but as youth training centres providing programs for young people sentenced to detention.

Later years

The Children and Young Persons Act 1989 required that the provision of services for children and young people on protective orders be separated from those provided to young offenders in custody. The Act established different divisions in the Children’s Court to completely separate child protection matters from criminal custodial matters. Prior to this, the Malmsbury Youth Training Centre accommodated wards of the state as well as young people remanded or sentenced for criminal matters.

From 1994, following the closure of Langi Kal Kal, Winlaton and Turana, three remaining Victorian centres provided custodial services for young offenders: Malmsbury, Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre (later Melbourne Youth Justice Centre), and the Parkville Youth Residential Centre.

In 1994, a major redevelopment of Malmsbury commenced to consolidate all the youth training centre functions for the 17–21-year age group on a single site, and improve the centre’s safety, security and program capacity.

In December 1997, the new 75-bed centre at Malmsbury was opened. In April 2007, the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 repealed most of the Children and Young Persons Act 1989 and changed the name of the young offender programs from ‘juvenile justice’ to ‘youth justice’. The Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre was renamed the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre.

In July 2015, a new 45-bed facility opened at the Malmsbury Youth Justice precinct. The $46 million complex was built next to existing facilities but had a higher level of security and featured three new residential wings, administration offices, an educational and recreational area as well as a visitor room.

Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre continues as an operational facility in 2016. It accommodates young men aged 18–21 years who have been sentenced to a youth justice custodial order by an adult court in Victoria. Young men live in a mixture of low- and high-security residential units.

Change in terminology from ‘trainee’ to ‘client’

The Children and Young Persons Act 1989 also replaced the terms ‘ward of state’ (introduced by the Neglected Children’s Act 1887) and ‘trainee’ (introduced by the Social Welfare Act 1960), with the new term, ‘children in need of protection’. The old terminology was phased out in the 1990s. After this, both children involved with child protection and sentenced young people were classified as ‘clients’. The term remains today for all care leavers in Victoria.

Young people who entered into the youth justice system before the 1989 Act was implemented, kept their trainee case history files, and not the later Client Relationship Information System institutional files (JJ CRIS prefix). This explains why the older records continued until the late 1990s – well after the terminology had changed.

Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre - Health building with other buildings in the background, c. 1997.

Warning about distressing information

This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria. If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.


Please note that the content of this administrative history is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of this administrative history. For more information on the history of child welfare in Australia, see Find & ConnectExternal Link .


Reviewed 24 April 2019