Justice Access Research Alert No. 92
November 2021
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Access to Justice

See also Domestic and Family Violence
Ransomware victimisation among Australian computer users
Voce & A Morgan I Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)
October 2021

REPORT | This paper from the AIC draws on data from a large sample of Australian computer users to explore patterns of ransomware victimisation, which has been identified as significant threat to Australian businesses and individuals. The results from a survey of 14,994 Australian adult computer users conducted in June 2021 show that nearly five percent of all respondents had ever experienced ransomware victimisation, while two percent of respondents had experienced ransomware in the last 12 months. Small to medium enterprise (SME) owners were twice as likely as other respondents to have been the victim of ransomware attacks in the past year and were more likely to have paid the ransom. The prevalence of ransomware victimisation varied according to the industry in which respondents were currently employed. Most ransomware victims did not pay the ransom. The advice given to ransomware victims was identified as the most common reason for a respondent’s decision about whether or not to pay the ransom, particularly in the case of SME owners. These authors note that ransomware victims rely on advice on how to resolve attacks and that this highlights the importance of providing consistent and accurate advice to victims on what action they should take and whether or not they should pay the ransom.
"Chuck her on a lie detector" Investigating Australians’ mistrust in women’s reports of sexual assault
K Minter, E Carlisle & C Coumarelos | Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS)
November 2021

RESEARCH | This study from ANROWS sought to understand survey findings that have indicated considerable community mistrust of women's reports of sexual violence. The study aimed to inform prevention of sexual assault by addressing key gaps in the existing literature about the broad range of beliefs, attitudes and myths that may underlie community mistrust of women’s reports of victimisation. The authors note that a comprehensive understanding of the factors underlying this mistrust is crucial for encouraging women to report sexual violence, supporting women on their journey through the service system, facilitating access to justice and, ultimately, reducing and preventing this violence. This study used a mixed-methods design to take a deep dive into attitudes that mistrust women’s reports of sexual assault, involving online focus groups and surveys. The researchers list a range of reforms, initiatives and education campaigns that could help inform Australians about the reality of sexual assault and help prevention.

Children and Young People

See also Indigenous Australians, Sentencing 
Accommodating transition: improving housing outcomes for young people leaving OHC
R Martin | Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI)
September 2021

REPORT | This report published by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) presents findings from a study into the service use and needs of young people who leave out-of-home care (OOHC) in Victoria and Western Australia. Researchers examined the housing, homelessness, mental health, alcohol and drug and juvenile justice service usage pathways for out-of-home care leavers in Victoria and Western Australia. During the study period, 534 care leavers (29%) made applications for public housing as the primary applicant; of these, 158 (30%) received an independent tenancy. To avoid homelessness, more than half of the young people returned to their family of origin, which was not usually considered a ‘safe’ option or one that would promote wellbeing. In addition, care leavers had more than twice the rate of hospital admissions compared with all Victorians aged 15–24 over the same time period. They also had higher rates of mental health care and youth justice sentences than other young people. The report calls for better transition planning to address the high rates of homelessness and service use among OOHC leavers.
Review of the service system and implementation requirements for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the Australian Capital Territory
M McArthur, A Suomi & B Kendall | Justice and Community Safety Directorate (ACT)
October 2021

REVIEW | In February 2021, the ACT Government commissioned an independent review, headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur, on the steps required to best support this major reform. This is the final report from that inquiry. The Justice and Community Safety Directorate considers raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the ACT a priority reform for the ACT Government. Across Australia, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 years. This means that children as young as 10 can be charged, convicted, and incarcerated for a criminal offence. This review highlights the risks of exposing children and young people to the criminal justice system and the significant impact on their neurological and social development this can have as well as resulting in life-long interactions with the justice system. The review asserts that by raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the Government can provide options for therapeutic and restorative care to reduce children and young people's interaction with the criminal justice system, better meet the needs of these young children and their families and keep the Canberra community safe.

Criminal Justice System

See also Domestic and Family ViolenceIndigenous Australians, Sentencing 
The effect of appointing additional judges on District Court finalisations
S Yeong & S Rahman | NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR)
September 2021

REPORT | In February 2019, the NSW Government appointed seven new judges to the NSW District Court (the DC7 reforms) as a measure to address the rising number of pending criminal matters. In this report, BOCSAR examines whether the appointment of these judges resulted in an increase in the monthly number of finalised matters in the NSW District Criminal Court (DC). A study compared DC finalisations before and after the reforms for six NSW courts who experienced an increase of at least 10 sitting weeks to eight NSW courts who did not experience any increase in sitting weeks following the reform. Monthly finalisations over the period 1 January 2014 to 30 September 2020 were examined. The report found that whilst the DC7 reforms have only generated a small increase in the number of monthly finalisations in some courts, they appear to have reduced the NSW DC’s reliance on acting judges.


Rapid Evidence Review: Violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability
J Koh, G Kembhavi-Tam & V Rose | The Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health
August 2021

REVIEW | This rapid review, undertaken by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation in partnership with Monash University, reviews evidence that describes experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, with the aim of preventing this from occurring, and better supporting people with disability. The authors claim the findings suggest that having a disability increases the risk of experiencing violence, abuse, and neglect. The overarching finding across almost all studied reviewed was that people with disabilities were more likely to have experienced all types of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation when compared to people without disabilities. The review also noted that being a female with a disability increases the risk of experiencing violence and abuse. The authors suggest a need for further research on protective factors and interventions that take a lifespan perspective in preventing and protecting people with disability from violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Domestic and Family Violence 

See also Disability
The use of restorative justice in family violence cases with a focus on the possibility of victims being coerced or controlled to participate by the persons who harmed them
J Paulin, K Paipa & S Carswell | Ministry of Justice (New Zealand)
September 2021

REPORT | This report from the Ministry of Justice New Zealand explores the risk of victims being coerced or controlled by perpetrators through restorative justice processes in cases involving family violence. Based on interviews with 20 stakeholders the researchers suggest that a restorative justice conference going ahead because of pressure on a family violence victim from their perpetrator is less likely in cases dealt with by specialist restorative justice practitioners with significant experience of working with cases of family violence. However, the authors highlight this is not to say that the risk of a victim being coerced or controlled to participate in restorative justice by a person who harmed them is not a real possibility. Situations in which this may occur are discussed in detail within the report.
Intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic: A survey of women in Australia
H Boxall & A Morgan | Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS)
October 2021

RESEARCH | This report from ANROWS notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised significant concerns for the safety of women in the context of a coalescence of risk factors and stressors for intimate partner violence (IPV). There is now a large body of international evidence that has explored the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on violence against women and children and, in particular, IPV. The aim of this study was to better understand women’s experiences of IPV since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on research conducted in the early stages of the pandemic (Boxall et al., 2020), the researchers conducted an online survey of more than 10,000 adult women in Australia who had been in a relationship in the last 12 months. This research drew on on a range of data sources, particularly police data and surveys of service providers and the community. Collectively, this research points to an increase in IPV, though not universally. In the Australian context, police data, service provider surveys and victimisation surveys have produced a mixed picture, but similarly suggest an increase in IPV, changes in the dynamics of IPV, and significant barriers to help-seeking.
The impact of the ‘What’s Your Plan?’ program on ADVO breaches and domestic violence
M Kim | NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR)
October 2021

RESEARCH | The aim of this study from BOCSAR was to understand the impact of the ‘What’s Your Plan’ (WYP) program on breaches of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) and Domestic Violence (DV) related offending. WYP asked defendants to imagine the future with and without breaching their ADVO, and to identify and plan for potential obstacles to compliance. WYP was available to Aboriginal defendants with a finalised ADVO between March 2017 and October 2019, and implemented with an on-week, off-week structure to facilitate evaluation. In this report, BOCSAR compares outcomes for people in the ‘off-weeks’ (Business-As-Usual) with both people in the ‘on-weeks’, and those that actually received the WYP program (26% of those allocated). For both breaches and DV related offending, they looked at the proportion of people who committed the offence, and the number of days until the offence occurred (if ever), within 3, 6 and 12 months. BOCSAR found no evidence that the ‘What’s Your Plan’ program is sufficient to reduce DV-related offending for Aboriginal defendants. The report suggests that a program like WYP may depend on the availability of other programs, support and resources to be effective.

Indigenous Australians

See also Statistics
First Nations Cultural Safety Framework
S Gollan & K Stacey | Australian Evaluation Society (AES)

FRAMEWORK | The First Nations Cultural Safety Framework was developed through a co-design process with a Reference Group that consisted of members of the AES Indigenous Culture and Diversity Committee and representatives from the other main AES Committees. The main aim of this paper is to outline the development of a culturally safe evaluation. AES provide practical guidance on the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in the evaluation process and what contributes to culturally safe evaluation in all phases of the evaluation process, from design through to implementation, reporting, and translating the learnings into policy and practice. It identifies the outcomes that can be achieved through full and consistent implementation of the Framework.
NSW Criminal Justice Aboriginal over-representation: Quarterly Report
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR)
June 2021

REPORT | The aim of this report from BOCSAR is to monitor progress towards reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in custody in NSW. As the report notes, the over-representation of Aboriginal Australians in custody is a matter of long-standing and justified public concern with latest figures indicating that the Aboriginal imprisonment rate in NSW is nearly 10 times the non-Aboriginal imprisonment rate (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020). Given that Aboriginal offenders are substantially overrepresented in prison, one would expect that they are also substantially over-represented at other stages of the Criminal Justice System. This report details performance against two key indicators of Aboriginal over-representation in the justice system: the number of Aboriginal people in custody and the number of court appearances involving Aboriginal people. The report also presents results for 14 secondary measures which contribute to changes in custody and court volumes. These secondary measures include police actions, bail decisions, bail breaches, court outcomes and reoffending. Separate reports are available for Aboriginal young people and Aboriginal adults.
Significance of Culture to Wellbeing, Healing and Rehabilitation
V Edwige & P Gray | Bugmy Bar Book
August 2021

REPORT | This report builds upon the work of the Bugmy Bar Book to date concerning establishing the link between experiences of disadvantage and contact with the criminal justice system, and citing recognised roads to rehabilitation and healing. In addition to the expert opinions of the authors, this report draws on existing literature relevant to the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and, where relevant, Indigenous peoples more broadly, as well as developmental approaches and evidence regarding effective service delivery with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Case studies are included as illustrative examples of positive programs or approaches consistent with key principles. However, the authors note that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are diverse, and have the right to determine their own social, cultural and economic development. Programs or approaches developed and implemented effectively in one community may be less effective in other communities, or in different circumstances. They should not be imposed on communities by external decision-makers, but developed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, tailored to their specific social and cultural circumstances.


Sentencing for social supply of illicit drugs in Australia
M Bull | Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)
September 2021

RESEARCH | This research paper from the AIC addresses the common practice of “social supply” which refers to people who supply illegal drugs to their friends, usually for no profit. The law doesn’t recognise the difference between social supply and so-called “dealers proper” who deal illegal drugs on a commercial scale for profit. This analysis maps out how current sentencing practices respond to offenders involved in ‘social supply’ and ‘minimally commercial supply’ who are charged with drug trafficking. It makes recommendations that could inform future drug law reform, including that review is needed of the system of thresholds; that sentencing objectives of general and specific deterrence be reconsidered in cases of social supply and minimally commercial supply; and that consideration be given to expanding the scope of current diversion programs to accommodate the needs of the types of offenders and offending behaviour addressed in this study.
Young people returning to sentenced youth justice supervision 2019-20
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)
October 2021

RESEARCH | This report from AIHW measures the number of young people who were released from a supervised youth justice sentence and who were subsequently returned—that is, young people who received another supervised sentence after the end of their initial sentence. Supervised sentences include both community-based and detention sentences. Of young people aged 10–17 who were under sentenced youth justice supervision at some time between 2000–01 and 2019–20, 41% returned to sentenced supervision before turning 18. Of young people aged 10–16 in 2018–19 and released from sentenced community-based supervision, 38% returned to sentenced supervision within 6 months, and 54% within 12 months. Of those released from sentenced detention, 61% returned within 6 months, and 80% within 12 months.
Australia's Prison Dilemma
Productivity Commission, Australian Government
October 2021

RESEARCH | This report from the Productivity Commission looks at imprisonment trends and the underlying drivers of the increase in imprisonment despite the fall in the number of criminal offenders. It also investigates the benefits and costs of imprisonment and, what, if any, are the alternatives.
The report finds that prisons are expensive and cost Australian taxpayers more than $5 billion per year, or more than $330 per prisoner per day. The report highlights the range of alternatives like community corrections orders, however recognises that while potentially lowering the costs, justice for victims is also an important consideration. These alternatives include home detention, electronic monitoring and intensive rehabilitation programs. The report includes several case studies where alternatives have been used both in Australia and overseas. The report notes that a critical first step is building a stronger evidence base to guide policy decisions.


NSW Recorded Crime Statistics quarterly update June 2021
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR)
September 2021

STATISTICS | This report presents data on crime reported to, or detected by, the NSW Police Force from January 1995 to June 2021, with a focus on the statistical trends for the 24 months ending June 2021. Note that, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation measures were introduced in NSW in the second half of March 2020 and many of these restrictions had began to ease from June 2020 onwards. However, these social isolation 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. At the State level, for the latest 24 months, one major offence category has been trending upwards: sexual assault (up 21.0%) and six of the 17 major offence categories were trending downwards: break and enter dwelling (down by 16.6%), motor vehicle theft (down 8.6%), steal from retail store (down 13.9%), steal from dwelling (down 9.8%), steal from person (down by 28.4%) and fraud (down 11.5%).
Deaths in custody in Australia 2019–20
L Doherty & T Sullivan | Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)
October 2021

STATISTICAL REPORT | The National Deaths in Custody Program has monitored the extent and nature of deaths occurring in prison, police custody and youth detention in Australia since 1980. The Australian Institute of Criminology has coordinated the program since its establishment in 1992, the result of a recommendation made the previous year by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In 2019-20 there were 113 deaths in custody: 89 in prison custody and 24 in police custody or custody-related operations. This report from AIC contains detailed information on these deaths, including indigenous status, and compares the findings to longer term trends.

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, 2021.
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