We would like to give a warm welcome to our new Principal Advocate for the Training Centre Visitor Unit (TCVU), Simone Deegan. Simone will be joining the team for the next 12 months while Belinda Lorek is taking leave.
Simone has a background in law and criminology as a researcher and (legal) advocate with a particular interest in the experience of young adults in the criminal justice system. She has previously worked as a defence solicitor for young people and adults charged with a range of offences.
More recently Simone has been researching the circumstances and needs of ‘juveniles’ charged with murder. Her research work has given rise to both systemic and individual advocacy to improve the law and the outcomes for individuals caught up in the criminal justice system. Simone is acquainted with the work of the TCVU and produced a thematic analysis of the voices of the residents for the TCV Pilot Inspection Report last year.
We hope you join us in welcoming Simone to the team. We decided to ask her a few questions to help us get to know her better…
What motivates you to advocate for children and young people caught up in the youth justice system?
Misconceptions about who they are and why they offend. While not discounting the role of personal responsibility or choice in offending behaviour, there needs to be recognition that who, when and where you are plays a large role in the choices that are available to you. My work is also informed by the idea of the juvenile brain as plastic and open to experience.
How do you think learnings from your previous roles will support this new role in advocating for the wellbeing and rights for children and young people in detention?
My background as a solicitor and as a researcher into serious crime, repeat offending and desistance (i.e. why and how do people stop doing crime) gives me the practical skills and the theoretical knowledge of what works well, and not so well, for young people in secure care and prison environments.
What are you most looking forward to in the role as principal advocate?
Working with young people to make a difference, however big or small, in their lives. I am also looking forward to forming successful working relationships with other professional people and learning more about what they do and how the pieces of the puzzle come together.
What are three words that best describe you?
Determined, passionate and driven.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Anything fitness related: competitive tennis, running, lifting weights … not to mention cooking and eating (but mostly eating!!!).