Justice Access Research Alert No. 84
July 2020
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Children and young people

See also Indigenous Australians, Youth Justice


See also Domestic and Family Violence, Statistics

Domestic and family violence

Justice for women amidst Covid-19, UN Women, IDLO, UNDP, UNODC, World Bank and The Pathfinders for Justice, May 2020
DISCUSSION PAPER: This report discusses some of the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic can impact on access to justice for women around the world. The report is organized into four main parts. Section 1 briefly draws on the key findings of the 2019 report on Justice for Women to better understand the underlying factors which impede women’s access to justice. Section 2 highlights women’s justice needs in the context of the pandemic and corresponding challenges. Section 3 presents examples of interventions underway by different stakeholders around the world in response to the growing justice deficit. Lastly, Section 4 outlines ten policy recommendations for addressing women’s justice needs during the period of the crisis.


Supporting families effectively through the homelessness services system, K Valentine, H Blunden, C Zufferey, A Spinney & F Zirakbash, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited Melbourne, June 2020
RESEARCH: This study from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute investigated the homelessness services system and families to identify what is working well; those elements that could be expanded to improve housing and wellbeing outcomes; and the potential for beneficial system redesign. The research design for this project builds on previous research and practitioner wisdom, rather than restating problems with existing systems on which broad consensus already exists. The project had three methods: a literature and policy review, policy and practice workshops in three states, and interviews with policy and data stakeholders.

Indigenous Australians

See also RecidivismYouth justice

Creating Futures: Weave’s intensive support service for young people leaving custody or involved in the criminal justice system, M Schwartz & M Terare, April 2020
EVALUATION: This evaluation report looks at Weave’s Creating Futures intensive support service for young people aged 18-30 years leaving custody, or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system. Creating Futures provides wraparound casework tailored to the needs and goals of each client, as well as court support and advocacy. The authors describe how Creating Futures uses an Aboriginal Healing Framework to support clients, providing a service which is trauma informed, strengths-based, culturally safe and client-led. The author’s note that Creating Futures connects clients to culture and community in ways that can both strengthen their personal identity, and which provide a protective factor against re-offending. The evaluation also notes that the recidivism figures for Creating Futures clients compare very favourably with the recidivism rates of Aboriginal people of the same age range in NSW.
Evaluation of the Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities, M Williams & M Ragg, NSW, 2019 
EVALUATION: For this report NSW Legal Aid commissioned an Aboriginal-led team to evaluate its Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities (CLSAC). The authors used a mixed-methods approach with groups and individual interviews with service users, focus groups, analysis of service use and outcome data, document review and field trips. As a framework they used Ngaa-bi-nya, developed by A/Prof Williams, which is a practical guide to the evaluation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social programs, with a range of prompts to stimulate data collection and analysis of factors for success in service delivery. The evaluation reports that CLSAC is an “informed, warm and compassionate” service that “shows respect for the locations into which it is invited, engages deeply, and works in accordance with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ values and processes”. The authors note its use is growing and it achieves good results for its clients, who value it. The report stated “its success depends on the contribution of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural knowledge and legal knowledge, and its continued success depends on recognising both equally”. 

Pathways to Justice

Digitisation and Accessing Justice in the Community, D Sechi, Administrative Justice Council, UK, April 2020
RESEARCH: This report from the UK looks at the Reform Programme ‘Transforming Our justice system’ and the use of digital technology that is being introduced as part of the reform package. The Reform Programme is now heading towards the third phase with the expansion of online services. The report draws on surveys with of service providers to discuss the need to ensure access to justice and fairness for those who are, for whatever reason, unable to interact with an online justice system. The author notes that although ‘Assisted Digital’ support services are being introduced as part of the Reform Programme, the initial focus of the service was on digital literacy rather than the provision of legal advice and support. The author argues that an emphasis on digital literacy risks access to justice becoming a secondary consideration and fails to address the important need for an integrated service providing adequate legal advice and support, especially for those most vulnerable.


See also Indigenous Australians, Recidivism, Statistics, Youth justice


Circle Sentencing, incarceration and recidivism, S Yeong & E Moore, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, April 2020
EVALUATION: This evaluation by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) aimed to examine the relationship between Circle Sentencing and likelihood of incarceration and recidivism. Circle Sentencing is an alternative sentencing method for Aboriginal offenders, which is available in 12 NSW Local Courts. Under Circle Sentencing, the magistrate works with Aboriginal elders, victims and the offender’s family to determine an appropriate sentence. Drawing on BOCSAR’s Research’s Reoffending Database (ROD) and data extracted from the Aboriginal Services Unit’s (Department of Communities and Justice) internal database, the authors compared outcomes for offenders participating in Circle Sentencing and Traditional Sentencing between 1 March 2005 and 31 August 2018.  The authors found that Circle Sentencing is associated with lower levels of incarceration and recidivism. However, the authors note that their finding needs to be interpreted with caution given methodological limitations. The report concludes that a long running randomized controlled trial will be required to determine the true casual effect of circle sentencing.


Corrective Services, Australia, March Quarter 2020, Australian Bureau of Statistics, June 2020
STATISTICS: This report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is part of a statistical series about persons either held in adult corrective services custody or who are serving adult community-based orders in Australia. This collection includes counts of persons remanded or sentenced to adult custody facilities or directed to serve community-based orders administered by adult corrective services agencies. The report found the vast majority of persons counted in the collection are adults. However, juveniles may be included in exceptional circumstances.
COVID-19 pandemic and crime trends in NSW, M Kim & F Leung, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), June 2020
STATISTICS: This brief examined changes in crime in New South Wales, in the 6-week period (15 March – 26 April, 2020) following the introduction of social distancing measures. BOCSAR compared the level of crime observed during this period with the level expected based on forecast models using historical observations. Since the start of the COVID-19 containment measures, there have been sharp falls in non-domestic related assault, sexual offences, robbery, break and enter (dwelling and non-dwelling), vehicle theft, stealing from vehicles and stealing from retail premises. It is important to note, however, that this study examines criminal incidents detected by, or reported to, police and findings may not reflect trends in unreported offences.


See also Domestic and Family Violence

Youth justice

Crossover Kids: Vulnerable Children in the Youth Justice System Report 3 - Sentencing Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, Sentencing Advisory Council (Vic), Melbourne, June 2020
RESEARCH: This is the third and final report in the Council’s series on ‘crossover kids’: sentenced and diverted children known to the Victorian Child Protection Service. The series studied 5,063 children sentenced or diverted in the Children’s Court and identified those who were known to child protection. The first and second reports, released in June 2019 and April 2020, have a statistical focus. This third report explores policy issues relating to sentencing children who have experienced trauma, particularly children who have had contact with the child protection system. The report draws on the findings of the first two reports, consultation on those findings and scientific evidence on the effects of childhood trauma. It canvasses possible changes to the youth justice system to more holistically and effectively address the causes of children’s offending.  
New LECC Reports expose the excessive use of strip-searches in NSW, Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, 8 May 2020
REVIEW: This review from the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) presented a suite of reports to Parliament on 8 May 2020 as part of its ongoing inquiry into the use of strip search powers by NSW Police Force officers. The reports are the result of investigations and hearings conducted by the Commission in five matters which concerned strip searches conducted either in police custody or in public places, such as music festivals or on the street. In each report the Commission has found that the involved police lacked the appropriate understanding of the legal requirements regarding the conduct of strip searches and had not received adequate training. 
Youth detention population in Australia 2019, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2020
STATISTICS: This bulletin compares the numbers and rates of young people aged 10 and over who were in youth detention in Australia due to their involvement, or alleged involvement, in crime. It focuses on trends over the 4-year period from the June quarter 2015 to the June quarter 2019. The AIHW found that of the 949 young people in detention on an average night in the June quarter 2019, most were male (90%), aged 10–17 (83%), unsentenced (63%), and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (53%). Young Indigenous Australians aged 10–17 were 21 times as likely as young non-Indigenous Australians to be in detention on an average night. Over the 4-year period, the number of young people in detention fluctuated across quarters with no clear trend.
Youth justice in Australia 2018–19, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2020

RESEARCH: This report looks at young people who were under youth justice supervision in Australia during 2018–19 because of their involvement or alleged involvement in crime. It explores the key aspects of supervision, both in the community and in detention, as well as recent trends. Presenting information from the Youth Justice National Minimum Data Set (YJ NMDS) on young people aged between 10 and 17 years under youth justice supervision: of the 5,694 young people under youth justice supervision on an average day in 2018–19, most were male (80%), and most were supervised in the community (84%). Although only about 6% of young people aged 10–17 in Australia are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, half (50%) of those under supervision on an average day in 2018–19 were Indigenous. About 3 in 5 (63%) young people in detention on an average day were unsentenced - that is, awaiting the outcome of their legal matter or sentencing. The report covers average time under supervision, variance between states and territories and variance between remote areas and cities, age when entering supervision, and comparison of history of supervision or detention. The AIHW website also contains factsheets by state.

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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