Justice Access Research Alert No. 85
September 2020
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Access to Justice

Community Justice Help: Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice, Community Legal Education Ontario and The Law Foundation Ontario, J Mathews & D Wiseman, Canada, July 2020
DISCUSSION PAPER: This discussion paper from the Community Legal Education Ontario and The Law Foundation Ontario explores the role of community justice workers in improving access to justice. The paper also discusses support mechanisms and tools that could further advance the contributions of community justice helpers. The authors offer a framework that describes elements of good quality community justice help with the framework intending to support the recognition of important elements for improving community-based access to justice. The Community Justice Help paper is informed by a literature review, discussions with members of the justice, not-for-profit and academic communities, and interviews with key staff working in community-based organizations.
Public confidence in the New South Wales criminal justice system: 2019 update, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), E Moore, Sydney, June 2020
STATISTICS: This bulletin reports the results of the fourth wave of BOCSAR's 'Confidence in the criminal justice system' survey. The telephone survey to landlines and mobile phone users (from a register of some NSW mobile phone numbers) had a random quota sample of 2,000 NSW residents in 2019. Previous research suggests that higher levels of knowledge of the criminal justice system (CJS) are associated with more confidence. Confidence in the CJS is critical to the effective functioning of the system as a whole. BOCSAR states that improving and maintaining public confidence should be an ongoing priority for criminal justice agencies. The report indicates the specific aims of the current study were to examine the level of public confidence in the NSW CJS in 2019; explore variation in confidence levels across the NSW population in 2019; and assess changes in public confidence, views on sentencing and knowledge of crime and sentencing outcomes from 2007 to 2019.

Children and young people

See also Domestic and Family Violence, Homeless

Raising the age of criminal responsibility, The Australia Institute, Australia, S Trevitt & B Browne, July 2020
DISCUSSION PAPER: The Australia Institute has released research that the authors state shows that most Australians agree children as young as 10 years old do not belong in prison, and that Australia’s age of criminal responsibility should be increased from 10 years of age to the global median of 14 years of age, or higher. The Council of Attorneys-General (CAG) were scheduled to meet on Monday 27 July to consider the outcome of a national review to raise Australia’s age of criminal responsibility from 10 years old to bring it in line with the global median of 14 years of age, or higher. The CAG consists of the Federal, State and Territories Attorneys-General, and the New Zealand Minister for Justice.


See also Domestic and Family Violence, PrisonersStatistics

Domestic and family violence

A Perfect Storm: The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse survivors and the services supporting them, Women’s Aid UK, S Davage, August 2020
DISCUSSION PAPER: The UK’s national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid released a new report: A Perfect Storm – The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse survivors and the services supporting them. The report brings together a number of surveys that indicate that domestic abuse has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report  examines themes such as the impact on survivors; how abusers use the pandemic as a tool of abuse; and how the services supporting survivors are affected. This report looks at the period from the start of lockdown measures in March 2020 to the closure of Women’s Aid most recent surveys in June/July 2020. 
Impact of COVID-19 on migrant and refugee women and children experiencing DFV, Women’s Safety NSW, Sydney, July 2020
RESEARCH: Women’s Safety NSW has released a paper on the specific impact of COVID-19 on migrant and refugee women experiencing domestic and family violence. This report offers the experiences and professional observations of multicultural domestic and family violence specialists supporting hundreds of these women at this critical time. Six out of the ten centres participating in the research reported an increase in migrant and refugee women clients; five in ten reported an escalation in violence being experienced by these clients and two in ten reported an increase in violence and abuse being experienced by migrant and refugee women for the first time. In order to compile this report, Women’s Safety NSW undertook extensive consultation with these frontline multicultural domestic and family violence specialists through online surveys and discussion forums to ascertain how the COVID-19 outbreak was affecting their clients who are migrant and refugee women experience domestic and family violence (DFV).
Path to safety: Western Australia’s strategy to reduce family and domestic violence 2020–2030, Department of Communities, Government of Western Australia, July 2020
POSITION PAPER: This paper from Department of Communities WA discusses family and domestic violence and its impact  on families and communities across Western Australia. The authors discuss the serious and often ongoing impacts on women’s health including injuries, homicide and poor mental health, and the exposure to children and young people of trauma that can impact them for the rest of their lives. The paper states that while government leadership is critical, they cannot hope to achieve long-term success without community support and participation. The strategy put forward draws on data analysis, research, consultations across Western Australia, and work with experts from government, academia and the specialist family and domestic violence sector.
The prevalence of domestic violence among women during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian Institute of Criminology, H Boxall, A Morgan & R Brown, Australia, July 2020
RESEARCH: This paper presents the findings from an online survey of 15,000 Australian women about their experience of domestic violence during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the sample was drawn from participants in a private research company online panel and was not random, the report cautions on extrapolating findings to the Australian population. The authors found that in the three months prior to the survey, conducted in May 2020, 4.6 percent of women who responded to the survey experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former cohabiting partner. Almost six percent (5.8%) of women experienced coercive control and 11.6 percent reported experiencing at least one form of emotionally abusive, harassing or controlling behaviour. The authors also report that for many respondents, the pandemic coincided with the onset or escalation of violence and abuse, with two-thirds of women who experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former cohabiting partner since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic reporting that the violence had started or escalated in the three months prior to the survey. Many women, particularly those experiencing more serious or complex forms of violence and abuse, reported safety concerns were a barrier to help-seeking.
AIC have also included a video with this report.
Understanding the role of law and culture in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in responding to and preventing family violence, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), H Blagg, T Tulich, V Hovane, D Raye, T Worrigal & S May, June 2020
RESEARCH: ANROWS released a report on family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. ANROWS state that the standpoint of this research project is that family violence experienced within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is shaped by the specific and historical context of colonialism, systemic disadvantage, cultural dislocation, forced removal of children and the intergenerational impacts of trauma. The authors claim that as a result, the prevention of family violence requires a distinct and tailored set of responses across multiple fronts led by Aboriginal communities and nested in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural values and world views.
Women’s imprisonment and domestic, family and sexual violence, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Sydney, 2020
POSITION PAPER: This paper contextualises ANROWS’s research on the close links between imprisonment and domestic and family violence (DFV) and sexual violence. ANROWS state this synthesis is designed for policymakers and practitioners engaging with people affected by domestic, family and sexual violence and imprisonment. It is also relevant for those who are developing policy frameworks addressing domestic, family and sexual violence; imprisonment; housing; mental health; substance use; and related issues.
Working across sectors to meet the needs of clients experiencing domestic and family violence, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Australia, August 2020
RESEARCH: This paper from ANROWS synthesises what is known about what works, and what doesn’t for collaborative practice. It collates existing ANROWS research recommendations into a resource for policymakers, practice designers and practitioners interested in establishing an integrated response, with links provided to proven resources. Brief case studies are included to help identify the unique challenges and benefits of different approaches to integrated service provision. Evidence supporting collaborative practice sits across a diverse range of ANROWS research, with many containing recommendations and resources for policymakers, practice designers and practitioners seeking to implement an integrated approach. The authors note that evidence also offers many lessons about the risks and barriers associated with integrated approaches.


Staying home: A Youth Survey report on young people’s experience of homelessness,  Mission Australia, S Hall, J Fildes, D Liyanarachchi, V Hicking, J Plummer, & E Tiller, Sydney, July 2020
RESEARCH: This report from Mission Australia reports on the Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2019 survey of 22,673 young people aged between 15 and 19. The report notes that, more than one in six young people (17%) reported having an experience of some type of homelessness. 7% of respondents indicated having experienced a time when they had no fixed address or lived in a refuge or transitional accommodation at least once. 13% of young people reported a couch surfing experience. There is insufficient information available to assess how representative the sample is, and therefore whether these findings can be generalised to the Australian population. The report also found that young people with an experience of homelessness were more likely to indicate experiences of challenges and disadvantages compared to those who hadn’t experienced homelessness.

Indigenous Australians

See Domestic and Family Violence


See also Sentencing, Statistics

The impact of COVID-19 measures on the NSW adult prison population, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), N Chan, Sydney, July 2020
STATISTICS: A report from BOCSAR about the response to the global COVID-19 pandemic in prisons, the NSW Government implemented changes across government services to minimise the risk of transmission. Within the criminal justice system, significant changes to the operation of the Courts and Corrective Services NSW took effect from 15 March 2020. Key changes involved the postponement of many District and Local Court matters, changes in bail decisions and the review of previous remand decisions. This brief examines the impact of these changes on the NSW adult prison population. Weekly trends in the NSW adult prison population, and the number of receptions and discharges, between January 2019 and May 2020 are presented.


Sentencing Trends & Issues No 47 — Navigating the Bail Act 2013, Judicial Commission of NSW, G Brinell & A Jamieson, Sydney, June 2020
REPORT: Judicial Commission of NSW have released a report on Judicial officers and decisions concerning bail. The report notes the statutory provisions governing bail are complex and require a considered and careful approach. The aim of this Sentencing Trends and Issues paper is to provide judicial officers and legal practitioners with a concise guide to the bail process and to supplement the content in the Local Court Bench Book. It discusses the relevant legislative provisions and summarises the relevant legal principles distilled from the case law. The discussion of different factors relevant to the question of bail in this Trends is intended to provide examples of factors that may influence a particular decision, not to provide a definitive predictor of the outcome.
The impact of the 2018 NSW sentencing reforms on supervised community orders and short-term prison sentences, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney, August 2020
STATISTICS: This brief from BOCSAR looks at the September 2018 sentencing reforms, from existing community-based sentences being replaced with new potentially more flexible sentencing options, in order to maximise opportunities for offenders to be supervised and to engage in rehabilitative and therapeutic programs. The author notes that two of the aims of the sentencing reforms were to increase the proportion of offenders sentenced to supervised community-based orders, and to reduce the proportion of offenders serving short prison sentences. BOCSAR examines whether these aims have been achieved by comparing sentencing outcomes in the 12 months prior to the legislative changes with sentencing outcomes in the 16 months after.


See also Access to Justice, PrisonersSentencing
NSW Custody Statistics: Quarterly update June 2020, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney, August 2020
STATISTICS: New figures released by BOCSAR show a marked decline in the NSW prison population over 8 weeks from mid-March 2020. From 15 March to 10 May the prison population decreased by 10.7% or 1,508 people. The report notes that the fall coincided with the ramp-up of COVID-19 mitigation strategies in the community and within the justice system. The majority of the fall was due to a reduction in the number of people on remand waiting for their court cases. The sentenced prisoner population also declined after the courts reduced hearings and, accordingly, fewer people were sentenced to prison. The youth detention population also showed a large decline, falling by 27% or 73 detainees from February to June 2020 (from 268 detainees at the end of February to 195 at the end of June).


See also Domestic and Family Violence

Youth justice

See also Children and Young People, Domestic and Family Violence, Homeless

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
© Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, 2020.
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