Justice Access Research Alert No. 87
January 2021
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Access to Justice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services National Picture, 2018–19 and Community Legal Centres National Picture, 2018–19, D Bellerose and G Mulherin, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Australia, November 2020
RESEARCH:These two reports from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW provide a comprehensive national snapshot of the valuable services provided by two of the main legal assistance services in Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Community Legal Centres. Commissioned by the Commonwealth Attorney-General`s Department, it is the first time such a comprehensive analysis of national legal assistance service delivery data has been attempted in Australia. As a snapshot of services delivered at both national and state/territory levels for the 2018–19 financial year, the reports examine what type of services are provided and a client’s profile based on a range of demographic characteristics.
Law informed: The value of telephone legal information services to clients, C Mirrlees-Black, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Australia, December 2020
EVALUATION: Do telephone legal information services fill a valuable place in the legal assistance landscape? Under its Research Alliance with Victoria Legal Aid (VLA), the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW followed up clients of VLA’s Legal Help over three months after their initial telephone call. Legal Help’s information and referral service is available to anyone in the Victorian community and is the main gateway for legal assistance to the general public and the entry point for legal triage to more intensive service providers. The research assessed the value of information services based on the following criteria: reach to the community, accessibility to clients, appropriateness of services provided, client experience, actions promoted and client outcomes.
Misconceptions of sexual crimes against adult victims: Barriers to justice, P Tidmarsh and G Hamilton, Australian Institute of Criminology, November 2020
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW: This Australian Institute of Criminology study synthesises over 40 years of research evidence with the aim of presenting an updated picture of sexual offending. The paper seeks to address some myths and misconceptions about adult rape and sexual assault including misconceptions of victim and/or complainant behaviour, sexual crime dynamics, and the prevalence and nature of sexual offending. The authors indicate that the evidence was collated from an analysis of the psychological and criminological literature.

Children and Young People 

See also Indigenous Australians
Children and technology-facilitated abuse in domestic and family violence situations, eSafety Commissioner, Australia, December 2020

REPORT: Commissioned by the eSafety Commissioner, this report seeks to consider the dynamics and impact of technology-facilitated abuse involving children in the context of domestic and family violence across the 2019–20 period. The report draws on a survey and focus groups of professionals who work with domestic violence cases, as well as interviews with mothers who are survivors of domestic violence, young people impacted by technology-facilitated abuse in domestic violence situations and fathers in men’s behavioural change programs. Among other things, the report sought to investigate the role of technology in children’s exposure to domestic and family violence, the impact of technology-facilitated abuse on children and young people, and strategies and resources to protect children and young people from technology-facilitated abuse.

Criminal Justice System

See also Prisoners, Sentencing
Mobile dating applications and sexual and violent offending, K Pooley and H Boxall, Australian Institute of Criminology, Sydney, November 2020
REVIEW: In this study, the Australian Institute of Criminology conducted a literature review aimed at understanding the role of mobile dating applications (dating apps) in the incidence of sexual and violent offences. Specifically, the report sought to determine the prevalence of dating app violence, the design features of dating apps that create and prevent opportunities for violence to occur, and the prevention strategies used by individual users and app designers. The study was undertaken in the context of several recent high-profile cases of sexual and violent offending committed after the offender and victim met through a mobile dating app. The authors contend that the results of their review suggest dating app users are at greater risk of sexual and violent victimisation than non-users and that dating app features designed to promote safety and connectedness place users at risk of victimisation.

Domestic and Family Violence

See also Children and Young People
Improving family violence legal and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, M Langton, K Smith, T Eastman, L O’Neil, E Cheesman and M Rose, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Australia, December 2020
RESEARCH: This ANROWS report seeks to identify priorities for reducing and preventing violence against, and improving services for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Victorian and New South Wales towns of Mildura and Albury–Wodonga. The cross-border context of these locations enabled the investigation of cross-jurisdictional issues. The research involved a qualitative investigation of the experiences of Aboriginal women when accessing legal and support services for family violence, services provided by police and the courts, and support services to victims. The authors bring together this information to provide insights regarding the adequacy of, and gaps in, family violence service provision.
Fathering programs in the context of domestic and family violence, D Chung, C Humphreys, A Campbell, K Diemer, D Gallant and A Spiteri-Staines, Australian Institute of Family Studies (Child Family Community Australia), Australia, December 2020
REVIEW: This paper from the Australian Institute of Family Studies seeks to examine how men’s behaviour change programs, domestic violence and family violence specific fathering programs, and Aboriginal men’s healing programs address fathering issues for men who use violence. It presents findings from a review of Australian and international literature from 2000 to 2018 with the aim of highlighting similarities, differences and gaps in programs, before exploring how these programs could be more inclusive of fathering in the context of domestic and family violence.


Ending homelessness in Australia: A redesigned homelessness service system, A Spinney, A Beer, D MacKenzie, S McNelis, A Meltzer, K Muir, A Peters and K Valentine, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), Australia, December 2020
INQUIRY REPORT: This report from AHURI is the final report of the research network’s inquiry into the Australian homelessness services system. The inquiry sought to address the overall research question: how can the homelessness service system be redesigned and implemented to be effective for different groups across the life course? This peer-reviewed final report presents key findings from the inquiry. According to the authors, they found that the existing Australian homelessness service system is mainly oriented towards crisis responses. The report also lays out a blueprint for how Australia could reduce and end homelessness by reorienting the Australian homelessness service system towards early intervention and prevention.

Indigenous Australians

See Access to Justice, Domestic and Family Violence
The Family Matters Report 2020, Family Matters, Australia, November 2020
REPORT: The annual Family Matters reports focuses on what governments at national and state/territory levels are doing to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. This latest Family Matters Report is the first to be published following the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which was entered into in July 2020 and sets targets for reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-representation in out-of-home care. The report includes some discussion of current data and trends for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care and makes several key recommendations.


Deaths in custody in Australia 2018–19, L Doherty and S Bricknell, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, December 2020
STATISTICS: This report from the National Deaths in Custody Program (NDICP) at the Australian Institute of Criminology contains detailed information on the 113 deaths in custody during the 2018–19 period, 89 of which were in prison custody and 14 in police custody or custody-related operations. The report seeks to compare these findings to longer term trends. According to the report's authors, this is the highest number of deaths in prison custody since NDICP data collection began, which they attribute to the increasing prison population. Among other things, the report looks at demographic status of those who died in custody, causes of death, and circumstances of custodial death.
The health and welfare of women in Australia’s prisons, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia, November 2020
RESEARCH: This report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare seeks to contribute to the understanding of women’s health and wellbeing needs when they enter prison, during their time in custody, and at release from prison. The chief data source for the study was the National Prisoner Health Data Collection (NPHDC). According to the report’s authors, the female prison population has grown at a greater rate (64%) than the male population (45%) over the past decade. The report looks at the socio-economic background of women prisoners according to the NPHDC data, the key health and wellbeing issues they face in prison, the extent of substance use, and available health services in prison.


Sentencing Image-Based Sexual Abuse Offences in Victoria, Sentencing Advisory Council, Melbourne, October 2020
REPORT: This Sentencing Advisory Council report seeks to provide the first empirical analysis of how people are sentenced for image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) in Victoria. It presents information on the rate of IBSA offences recorded by police, how many of those offences are ultimately sentenced (attrition), the demographics of victims and offenders, the relationships between them (especially whether the offending occurred in the context of family violence), and the types of offences typically co-sentenced alongside IBSA. The report also discusses the legislative framework that criminalises IBSA in Victoria.


See Access to Justice, PrisonersSentencing
New South Wales Recorded Crime Statistics Quarterly Update: September 2020, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney, December 2020
STATISTICS: This BOCSAR report presents data on crime reported to, or detected by, the NSW Police Force from January 1995 to September 2020, with a focus on statistical trends for the 24 months ending September 2020. The report includes an overview of trends in the most recent two-year period for major offence categories, firstly for NSW and then across NSW regions broken down to the Local Government Area (LGA) level. According to the report, for the latest 24-month period, one major offence category has been trending upwards – sexual assault (up 10.0%).
NSW Criminal Courts Statistics 2020, BOCSAR, Sydney, November 2020
STATISTICS: This statistical report from BOCSAR presents information on the characteristics of defendants dealt with by NSW criminal courts over five years to June 2020 across a large range of variables including: court outcomes, bail/remand status, offence demographics, sentencing patterns, court delay and District Court appeals. Trends during the reported period must be considered alongside changes to court operations during the early COVID-19 pandemic period.


See Domestic and Family ViolencePrisoners

About this newsletter

JARA is a free email alert service covering recent research in the area of access to justice and legal need. JARA entries are publications identified by Foundation staff rather than the product of a systematic search or review. Foundation staff have produced the summaries based on the original publications. The summaries do not necessarily reflect the views of the authors or the Law and Justice Foundation. Your feedback is important to us. If you have any comments or suggestions please email us at
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