Department of Justice and Community Safety staff member Darcy McGauley-Bartlett has been announced as Victoria’s 2023 Young Australian of the Year.

Darcy is the Acting Senior Manager, Aboriginal Health within Justice Health, and has been recognised for his advocacy for Aboriginal healthcare in prisons and commitment to keeping Aboriginal people out of the justice system.

Darcy is a proud Gunai Kurnai man who is passionate about supporting his community. He has overcome significant challenges in his youth to emerge as a role model and advocate for Aboriginal people.

Within Justice Health, Darcy has helped to establish the state’s first Aboriginal Custodial Health team to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal prisoners.

Having started with Justice Health just over two years ago, Darcy has been pivotal in supporting healthcare for Aboriginal prisoners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including working to increase uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In his previous role as Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer for Victoria Police, Darcy was instrumental in changing policy to ensure fewer Aboriginal people entered the justice system. He implemented Victoria’s first Aboriginal Youth Cautioning Program to ensure young Aboriginal people are eligible for a caution when they come into contact with the justice system for the first time.

Darcy was presented with his award by Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, at a ceremony at Government House, Melbourne on Tuesday 8 November.

In his acceptance speech, Darcy said he was motivated to make change after seeing some of his family members’ experiences with the justice system.

"Seeing the failures the system had given my family, this was time to make change and really start early intervention and prevention," Darcy said.

"There's not too many advocates who really want to make change, who genuinely care. I luckily work with so many genuine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal people who want to make change for our people in custody."

He also spoke about the importance of self-determination for Aboriginal people.

"For me, one thing that's really important is everything is self-determined. Our community have a voice. We now have a say. So in the work we're doing, my community, our prisoners, are telling us what they need for rehabilitation and integration and we're making it happen," Darcy said.

"The take home for me is we are past acknowledgments and good intentions, it's time to stand up, get up and really make change for our community."

Darcy will now join recipients from the other states and territories for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2023.

You can read more about Darcy and the other Victoria 2023 Australian of the Year recipients on the Australian of the Year website (External link).