Juvenile Justice Program

Juvenile Justice Program

Bell Shakespeare’s renowned Juvenile Justice program for young men and women commenced in 2010 at two NSW facilities – Frank Baxter and Juniperina Juvenile Justice centres – with the support of the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice. Since then, the program has expanded successfully with incredible impact and is currently delivered at Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre (Kariong NSW), Reiby Juvenile Justice Centre (Airds NSW), Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre (Grafton NSW), and Parkville and Malmsbury Youth Justice Centres in VIC.

This incredible program would not be possible without the generous and visionary support of trusts and foundations including the Bill & Patricia Ritchie Foundation, the Neilson Foundation and the Scully Fund.


This program is only made possible through generous support from our donors. If you would like to help us continue to work in juvenile detention centres, and other at-risk communities throughout Australia, please consider donating to our Sharing Shakespeare giving program.


For more information please contact Debra Reinecke, Head of Development, on 02 8298 9082 or debrar@bellshakespeare.com.au

Scroll down to find out more about Kings of Baxter, an award-winning documentary by Grumpy Sailor Pictures, documenting one group of participants and their exploration of Macbeth at Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre NSW.

The Juvenile Justice program uses Shakespeare as a vehicle for transformative learning, developing skills in critical and self-reflective thinking, self-confidence, literacy and communication. Bell Shakespeare Teaching Artists lead active workshops that deliver participants into the world of the play and explore relationships, decision-making, actions and consequences from the perspectives of different characters. Through this process, participants reflect on their own experiences and consider other possibilities which are open to them. As Ophelia says in Hamlet (Act 4, Scene 5): “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

Each program is tailored to suit the centre and the needs of participants and staff, using a specific Shakespeare play as a basis for self-reflection and self-improvement.

At first it just seemed like an acting class but gradually over time it was something more than that, we became a family and were able to interact with each other without any difficulties or boundaries. We all accepted each other as one and did not let anything come in between us. The class has had an optimistic influence on my life too, helping me express myself and not being shy. All of these skills that I have acquired were not with me before. I will never forget what they have done with me and the boys and will forever cherish our memories.
Name withheld, Participant
Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre

These articles written by Joyce Morgan for The Australian and Liam Pieper for Fairfax, give insight into the program.


Kings of Baxter is an engaging, moving, and at times funny, documentary following juvenile justice detainees as they create a production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The film shadows passionate Bell Shakespeare Teaching Artists, James Evans and Huw McKinnon, and documents the program at Frank Baxter Juvenile Detention Centre. Follow the boys beyond the bravado, fear and self-doubt, over three months of rehearsal, leading up to a final performance for friends, family and fellow inmates.

A multi-award winning documentary (Winner Best Australian Documentary & Audience Award – Antenna Documentary Film Festival, Winner Grand Jury Prize & Best Director – Melbourne Documentary Film Festival), Kings of Baxter is compulsory viewing for anyone interested in how Shakespeare’s work can change lives. Teachers can also access the ATOM Study Guide to assist their teaching of the documentary.

Official Trailer
ABC Lateline Interview
ABC National Interview ( 9/10/17)

Kings of Baxter is a Grumpy Sailor production, produced in association with Foxtel Arts, Screen NSW and Screen Australia.

The documentary is available on DVD. To purchase please visit Ronin Films.