Male Adolescent Program for Positive Sexuality - MAPPS

MAPPS (Male Adolescent Program for Positive Sexuality) is an intensive group treatment program for adolescent males who have been found guilty of a sexual offence. All MAPPS clients are on court orders supervised by Youth Justice, which is part of the Department of Human Services. Youth Justice provides services to young people aged from 10 to 21 years on community-based orders and custodial sentences imposed by the courts under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Prevention through early intervention

Established by Youth Justice in 1993, MAPPS is Victoria's first offence-specific program to target adolescent perpetrators of sexual abuse. Since 1999, the program has been conducted through the Adolescent Forensic Health Service which is funded by Youth Justice to provide a range of health interventions for Youth Justice clients. The importance of intervention in adolescence is shown by:

  • The extent of sexual offending by adolescents-approximately 20 per cent of recorded sex offences are committed by adolescents and it is estimated that 30-50 per cent of child molestation cases are perpetrated by adolescent males.
  • Early intervention prevents future victims-sex offenders are likely to commit multiple offences over the course of a lifetime, with the majority of adult sex offenders beginning their offence pattern in adolescence.
  • The need for early intervention before the behaviour becomes chronic and ingrained-adolescence is a developmental period with more potential for behaviour change and positive sexual identity formation than later in adulthood.

MAPPS program

The accountability process begins in court and continues in treatment. MAPPS emphasises the young man accepting responsibility for his offending behaviour and for making the changes necessary to lead a life without offending. Only when young people accept full responsibility for their behaviour can they build an offence-free future.

The program's aims are:

  • To reduce the incidence of sexual abuse in Victoria.
  • To reduce the offender's risk of reoffending through the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes to manage his life without further offending.

Based on a cognitive-behavioural model, MAPPS incorporates attitudinal and cognitive restructuring techniques, social skills, relapse prevention, victim awareness and education on sex and sexuality.
Key concepts used to define sexual abuse are: consent, coercion, cooperation, inequality and harm. There are five stages in the program: assessment, basic group, transition program, advanced group, and follow up and support.
Group work, where young men can receive feedback from their peers, is the preferred treatment mode. MAPPS adopts an 'open group' model to allow young offenders to be inducted into the program after sentencing. Individual and family sessions are also conducted where appropriate.
At MAPPS, a therapeutic atmosphere is created where clients are challenged about their offending directly, honestly and respectfully, and are optimistic about changing their behaviour. Length of program participation is usually for the duration of the court order, with most averaging about 11 months of weekly attendance.


“When I first came to MAPPS, I told everyone that my offending 'just happened'. I realise now that I planned my offending.”

“When I first started going to MAPPS, I was really surprised to hear how other guys talked openly about their offending.”

“MAPPS provides (our sons) with a guiding light, which is better than leaving them on the scrap heap.”

“I felt so sick that I couldn't look him in the eye... we know what we're talking about now. I can ask him appropriate questions and relate to him now.”

Documents to print

This information is also available as a PDF factsheet [34.1KB] or as a Word factsheet [134KB], click on the links below.

Contact Information

MAPPS at the Adolescent Forensic Health Service
Tel: (03) 9389 4272
Fax: (03) 9389 4444
Web: MAPPS web page

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