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Justice Access Research Alert No. 95
June 2022
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Criminal Justice System

Evaluation of Help Before Court (HB4C)
Victoria Legal Aid
April 2022

RESEARCH | This report commissioned by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is an evaluation of the new Help Before Court (HB4C) service for Victorians seeking legal assistance for summary crime matters implemented in late 2020. The service was originally conceived in response to a longstanding need to reform the ‘at court’ duty lawyer model as recommended by the 2017 evaluation of VLA’s Summary Crime Program (SCP) and articulated in the subsequent Better Justice, Every Day Project. This need became immediate when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020 and there was an accompanying shift to remote service delivery and adjournments of a majority of summary stream criminal matters by the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. The overarching aim for the project was to create a new VLA summary crime duty service model and intake pathway for people on bail or summons in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, to support the progress of matters before the date of their court hearings and away from physical court locations. HB4C was established as a pre-court service to complement the duty lawyer service and designed to improve the experience for clients. Clients and practitioners surveyed for this evaluation indicated that they felt that HB4C is providing a better experience.
Sentencing breaches of Family Violence Intervention Orders and Safety Notices: third monitoring report
P McGorrery, Z Bathy, O Simu, P Schollum & A Chalton | Sentencing Advisory Council (Vic)
May 2022


RESEARCH | This report by the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council presents police and court data on Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSNs) and Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIOs) in Victoria in the 10 years to 2020. The report found that, within this timeframe, there were: 631,000 FVSNs, interim FVIOs and final FVIOs issued; 317,000 recorded breaches (by 84,000 people); and 113,000 sentenced breaches (by 39,000 people). The report found that the number of FVSNs issued by police between 2012 and 2020 more than doubled, which it attributes to the increase in the number of incidents attended by police. Males made up 82% of both the respondents to FVSNs and respondents to FVIOs issued in the Magistrates' Court. Around 97% of breaches of FVSNs and FVIOs were sentenced in the Magistrates' Court, with the most common sentencing outcome being imprisonment (26%). The outcome of a prison sentence increased from 14% in 2011 to 40% by 2020, which the authors partly attribute to new offences implemented in 2013. The authors also express concern about the rate of fines being issued as a result of breaches of FVSNs and FVIOs, being 21% of all outcomes.
NSW Custody Statistics March 2022
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney
May 2022

RESEARCH | This report by BOCSAR presents custody statistics from the last 24 months in New South Wales. The data is extracted from the Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Offender Integrated Management System and the Juvenile Justice NSW (JJNSW) Client Information Management System. It includes reception, discharge and custody population data and comparisons between the current and previous quarter. It found that, between March 2021 and March 2022, in youth detention, remand population increased 10.2% and the sentenced population decreased 42.5%. There was an almost 10 percentage point increase over this period in the percentage of young people in custody who were Aboriginal, rising to 51.4% from 41.8%. In the adult prison population, the sentenced population decreased 10.2%, though the adult remand population increased 3.7%. The percentage of adults in custody who were Aboriginal increasing slightly from 27.0% to 27.8%.

Domestic and Family Violence 

Has the rate of domestic and family violence changed in NSW? Victim survey results from July 2008 to June 2020
K Freeman | NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney
April 2022


RESEARCH | This descriptive study by BOCSAR analysed trends in domestic and family violence in New South Wales through crime victim survey results. The study drew on pooled data from 12 consecutive Crime Victimisation Australia surveys from financial years 2008/09 to 2019/20. These surveys asked respondents about their experiences of personal and household victimisation in the previous 12 months. Self-reported rates of DFV were considered for NSW and Australia across four three-year periods. It is estimated that in NSW over 40,000 persons aged 15 and over experienced at least one episode of physical violence by an intimate partner or family member within a 12 month period. The survey data suggest that the prevalence of physical DFV in NSW did not change significantly over the time periods examined. Victimisation rates for DFV in NSW were generally consistent with the national victimisation rates, with the exception of the period of July 2014 to June 2017, where the NSW victimisation rate was considerably lower than the national average. The study also found that amongst those surveyed around 60 percent of NSW victims of physical DFV reported the most recent incident to police.
New ways for our families
G Morgan et al. | Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Sydney
April 2022


RESEARCH REPORT | This research report presents the findings of a project led by Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) that investigated how services and systems could improve in relation to First Nations children and young people exposed to domestic and family violence who come into contact with child protection systems. The report is the first in the series for the project and presents the findings from a literature review and early findings from participatory action research conducted in eight community-controlled child and family services across Queensland. The report argues for improved responses to domestic and family violence and the need for culturally safe and competent specialist services to refer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to. The authors also call  for the creation of culturally designed family- and child-centric responses that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led.

Family Law

"They thought it was safe - but it wasn't": Recognising children's rights as a means of securing children's safety in Australia's family law system
C Nelson | Whitlam Institute
May 2022


RESEARCH REPORT | This report analyses the findings of a multiple case study project of seven in-depth interviews with adult survivors of family violence whose parents went to family court when they were children. The case studies involve children whose families went to family court from the 1990s to 2010. Common experiences reported from these case-studies were feelings of powerlessness, trauma from the execution of court orders, ongoing social, emotional and financial impacts, and trauma resurfacing in their adult lives. On the basis of this, the paper presents a number of recommendations to reduce harm to children, calling for practices to be brought into line with the National Principles for C
hild Safe Organisations (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2018). These recommendations involve policy and legislative changes to enhance children's rights within Australia's family law framework.

Juvenile Offenders

Youth justice in Australia 2020–21
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Canberra
March 2022

RESEARCH | This report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analyses data of young people under youth justice supervision in Australia in 2020-21 on account of involvement in crime. It is based on data from the YJ NMDS (The Youth Justice National Minimum Data Set) for all states and territories in Australia, and looks at the characteristics of these young people, aspects of their supervision, and other trends.  It found that around 4700 young people aged 10 and over were under supervision on an average day, with more than 84% of young people being supervised in the community. Of those young people supervised in detention, 72% were unsentenced. Young people in remote areas, and lower socioeconomic areas, were more likely to be under supervision. It also found that, on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people entered youth justice supervision at a younger age than non-indigenous young people.
Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility: law reform considerations
B Gogarty & C Yu | Tasmania Law Reform Institute
April 2022

REPORT | This report by the Tasmania Law Reform Institute considers law reform implications of raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) in Tasmania. The report is prefaced on the assumption that there is a commitment to raising the MACR in Tasmania, and considers three technical questions in relation to this: how the issue of MACR has been approached in other jurisdictions; what options are there for an alternative legal framework to ensure children exhibiting harmful behaviours receive appropriate support; and what additional law reform would be required to ensure community safety and assist children aged less than MACR who exhibited such behaviours. In answering these questions, the report does not recommend implementing a new legislative regime, public office or hearing system, but rather the amendment of existing law and makes eight specific recommendations in relation to this.
The impact of the NSW Youth Koori Court on sentencing and re-offending outcomes
E Ooi & S Rahman | NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney
April 2022

RESEARCH | This report by BOCSAR examines the impact of the NSW Youth Koori Court (YKC) on justice outcomes, including the probability of recidivism and being sentenced to a juvenile control order. The justice outcomes for 151 Aboriginal young people referred to YKC were compared with outcomes for 2883 Aboriginal young people who had their matter finalised in a specialist NSW Children's Court through a usual court process. Outcomes were compared using a regression model, as well as a difference-in-differences model measuring changes in youth justice outcomes at the specialist NSW Children's Court after the establishment of the YKC in February 2015. It found that Aboriginal young people referred to the YKC were significantly less likely to be sentenced to a juvenile control order.The findings suggest an association between participation in the NSW Youth Koori Court and reduced risk of imprisonment, without any adverse impact on re-offending rates. However, the research design was unable to entirely rule out selection effects.

Legal Assistance

Understanding Civil Law Needs of Older People and Building Research Capacity in Community Legal Centres
A Jones & I Warren | Barwon Community Legal Service and Deakin University
March 2022

REPORT | This research report contains the data and evidence collected as a part of the Knowledge Building Project, carried out by Barwon Community Legal Service (BCLS) in partnership with Deakin University and funded by the Victorian Law Foundation as a part of its Knowledge Grant funding stream. This project aimed to better understand and utilise BCLS’s data regarding the civil law needs of older people and develop an evidence-based framework for the future collection, interpretation, and analysis of such data. The report found that, between July 2017 and June 2020 at BCLS, 12% of all legal assistance services were delivered to older people, and older people made up 14% of all clients receiving services. Family violence was the most common legal issue experienced by older people receiving service. A large proportion of these clients experienced financial disadvantaged, family violence or living with a disability, and most older people accessing BCLS services receive an Age Pension or Disability Support Pension. The report found that very low numbers of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients accessed BCLS’s services. Stakeholder surveys were also conducted to investigate what BCLS could do or improve to better meet the civil law needs of older people. On the basis of the project’s findings, the report sets out key recommendations for BCLS moving forward.
Working in community legal centres in Victoria: results from the Community Legal Centres Workforce Project: COVID-19 experiences and lessons
J Kutin, H McDonald, T Hagland, C Kennedy & N Balmer | Victoria Law Foundation
May 2022

RESEARCH REPORT | This report presents the findings from the Community Legal Centres’ Workforce Project, conducted by the Victorian Law Foundation on behalf of the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria Inc. The project involved a survey of the community legal centre workforce to better understand the impact on COVID-19 on issues such as service delivery, operations, and legal workload. The survey was completed by 664 people within 31 community legal centres; 79.7 percent being employees, 13.5 percent volunteers, 4.1 percent board members and 2.7 percent students. The survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic had a impact on operations, clients and workforce. Survey respondents reported there being increased number of people seeking help, clients presenting with an increased number of legal problems, and experiencing increased numbers of related issues during the pandemic. Amongst the negative experiences reported were the effects on workload, difficulty communicating with clients, and working remotely.  However, there were positive experiences reported, with respondents finding that online services generally enhanced legal assistance for tech-literate clients. On the basis of the survey’s results, the report calls for the ongoing monitoring of pandemic-related changes moving forward.

Victims

Exploring the onset, duration and temporal ordering of adverse childhood experiences in young people adjudicated for sexual offences: a longitudinal qualitative study
D Harris, J Ogilvie, L Thomson, J Barton, J Rynne & P O’Leary | Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Sydney
April 2022


RESEARCH | This report investigates the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on youths and relationship between ACEs and domestic and family violence (DFV). It contains the results of a qualitative study in which the clinical files of 400 young people adjudicated for sexual offences were reviewed and coded according to the total known number of ACEs within this group. The 20 cases with the highest ACE scores were then selected and reviewed with their ACEs plotted over time from birth until they were referred for treatment. The authors then used a visualisation technique provide a temporal analysis of the ACEs. The report’s results found that the nature and extent of ACEs was significant in terms of duration and co-occurence. The temporal analysis indicated common changes in accommodation and primary caregiver amongst the 20 cases analysed. Maltreatment often occurred before the participants had begun primary school and tended to co-occur with other adverse childhood experiences. On the basis of this research, the report contains several suggestions for the direction of future research in this area.


 

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 publications@lawfoundation.net.au
© Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, 2022.
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