Justice Access Research Alert No. 81
January 2020
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Child abuse

See Children and young people 

Child protection

See Youth justice

Children and young people

See also Criminal justice system, Out-of-home care, SentencingYouth justice

Annual progress report 2019 – Australian government response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Australian Government, Canberra, 2019
INQUIRY: This second Annual Progress Report outlines the progress the Morrison Government has made in implementing recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse over the last 12 months. Achievements include the endorsement by COAG of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, the enactment of the Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Act and the endorsement of the National Standards for Working with Children Checks by all jurisdictions. The government has committed funding to establish the independent National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

Children’s rights in Australia: a scorecard, Australian Human Rights Commission, Sydney, 2019
RESEARCH: 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC sets out all the basic rights that children need to do well: like having a home and a family, getting a good education, being able to access quality health care, being safe from harm, and having a voice. Australia ratified this treaty in 1990. In September 2019, Australia appeared before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee) to answer questions about how it is working to advance the rights of children in Australia. The Committee provided Australia with a range of recommendations, called Concluding Observations, to improve its performance in relation to children’s rights. The Concluding Observations (2019) called for urgent measures to be taken in order to protect children. A summary of the observations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child is included in the appendix.

Children's rights

See Children and young people

Community legal education and information

See Legal services

Criminal justice system

See also JuriesYouth justice

NSW trends in the age-specific rates of offending, 1995–2018, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Sydney, 2019
STATISTICS: Over the past 10 years the incidence of break and enter, motor vehicle theft, robbery and serious non-domestic assault have fallen considerably in NSW.  This report shows that the fall in crime is being driven by falling participation in crime by young people. Between 2009 and 2018 there was a 55% decrease in burglary proceedings against 15 to 17-year-olds, a 44% reduction for car theft, a 40% reduction for robbery and a 48% reduction for serious non-domestic assault. These trends are apparent in both Greater Sydney and NSW regional areas. While a proportion of young people go through a period of risk-taking on their way to adulthood, young people today are far less likely to become involved in crime than their predecessors 10 years ago.

Digital delivery of legal services

See Legal services

Domestic and family violence

Attitudes towards violence against women and gender equality among people in NSW: summary findings from the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS), C Parton, Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety, Sydney, 2019.
RESEARCH: This report is a summary of the 2017 NCAS results for the NSW community. The NCAS is a population-based periodic telephone survey (landline and mobile) of a representative sample. In 2017, 17,542 people were surveyed across Australia, including 4,018 people from NSW. Overall, the 2017 NCAS results show improvements in attitudes towards violence and gender equality in the NSW community. However, there remain areas of concern. The report notes that continued effort is needed to make sure that positive changes in attitudes are reflected in a reduction of violence against women.
Female perpetrated domestic violence: prevalence of self-defensive and retaliatory violence, H Boxall, C Dowling & A Morgan, Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, 2020
RESEARCH: Differences between male and female perpetrated domestic violence are widely acknowledged but there is a lack of data in Australia. This study analysed 153 police narratives of domestic violence incidents involving a female. Results were consistent with international studies. Half of the episodes involved either self-defensive or retaliatory violence – known as ‘violent resistance’ where the female has been a victim of prior violence by their partner – or a male victim who was abusive in the lead-up to the incident. Violent resistance was more common in incidents involving Indigenous women. The findings highlight the different motivations for female perpetrated domestic violence, and the importance of understanding the complex dynamics of violent episodes.


An effective homelessness services system for older Australians, C Thredgold, A Beer,  C Zufferey, A Peters, A Spinney, AHURI, Melbourne, 2019
RESEARCH: This study investigated the issues affecting older Australians who are experiencing or facing homelessness including the capacity to access specialist homeless services and other government supports, and potential ways to escape homelessness for older people. The study comprised a literature review, two workshops, one yarning circle and an online survey. Successful international practices for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness were also considered.

Human rights

Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper, Australian Human Rights Commission, Sydney, 2019
DISCUSSION PAPER: This paper makes wide-ranging proposals for safeguarding human rights and encouraging accessible, equal and accountable use of new technology in Australia. Drawing on extensive community and expert consultation, the discussion paper sets out a template for change on how artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies are developed and used in Australia. It proposes practical improvements in applying existing human rights and consumer protections to the development and use of new technologies.

Indigenous Australians

See Recognition


Jurors, social media and the right of an accused to a fair trial, Final report No. 30, J Holt, Tasmania Law Reform Institute, Hobart, 2020
RESEARCH: This final report follows an Issues Paper released on 21 August 2019 which posed 13 questions in an effort to stimulate discussion about jurors’ use of social media and other internet platforms during criminal trials, and subsequent consultation with stakeholders and the community at large. Fourteen written submissions, six verbal submissions and a number of anonymous submissions were received. The report makes three main recommendations: changes to the pre-empanelment training for jurors in Tasmania; adoption of a standard set of directions to jurors similar to those in NSW and Victoria; and continuation of the practice of removing mobile phones/electronic devices from jurors during trials and deliberation. See animated explainer video

Legal capability

See Legal services

Legal services

Uptake of legal self-help resources: what works, for whom and for what?, HM McDonald, S Forell & Z Wei, Justice issues 30, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2019.
RESEARCH: This paper reports important evidence concerning Australians’ use of self-help resources (SHRs) for legal problems using the LAW Survey dataset. SHRs were used for 20% of legal problems, and rarely were they the only type of assistance or action. When used, SHRs were rated as helpful for only 60% of legal problems. SHRs were typically one of a number of strategies people used to solve their legal problems, suggesting they should be viewed as a complementary rather than stand-alone strategy. Further research is needed into what makes SHRs ‘helpful’ and how to facilitate access to quality, useful SHRs. More nuanced understanding of how personal legal capability intersects with digital capability is also needed. 

Older people

See Homeless

Out-of-home care

The views of children and young people in out-of-home care in NSW: results from the 2018 NSW out-of-home care and residential care surveys, FACS Insights, Analysis and Research (FACSIAR), Sydney, 2019
RESEARCH: During 2018, the NSW Department of Communities of Justice (DCJ), formerly Family and Community Services (FACS), conducted two statewide surveys about the experiences of children and young people in out-of-home care – the NSW OOHC Survey (322 participants) and the NSW Residential Care Survey (143 participants). The first time these surveys were conducted was in 2015. This report presents an overview of the results and compares them with the 2015 survey results. This report aims to inform system design, practice, policies and planning by sharing the views and voices of children and young people in care in NSW. See summary


The long-term effect of routine police activity on property and violent crime in NSW, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Sydney, 2019
STATISTICS: This study shows that increasing the number of police searches and move-on directions can reduce crime. Move-on directions and person searches are two of the more common policing strategies employed by NSW Police to prevent and control crime. In 2018, NSW Police issued 120,000 move-on directions and conducted 250,000 person and vehicle searches. The study investigated the long-term relationship between these types of routine policing activity and recorded incidents of property and violent crime. The analysis focused on break-ins, car theft, robbery and non-domestic assault in 17 Sydney Local Area Commands from 2001 to 2013. Searches and move-on directions were found to significantly reduce car theft, break-ins and robbery over the long term. It was estimated that a 10% increase in move-on directions results in a 2.7% drop in break and enter and a 10% increase in person searches reduces break and enter by 2.4%. The results for car theft were similar while a slightly larger impact was recorded for burglary. Neither police move-on directions nor person searches had any meaningful effect on assault.


Understanding the landscape: the foundations and scope of a Victorian treaty, Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, November 2019
DISCUSSION PAPER: This paper explores how Aboriginal Victorians might achieve recognition of their sovereignty, control over their own affairs, and enshrine their rights to self-determination and culture. Part 1 begins with an overview of the current landscape of Aboriginal affairs, made up of Aboriginal and traditional owner organisations, interest groups, laws and policies. Part 2 explores the concept of the framework itself and Part 3 suggests how it could be developed to incorporate and advance the aspirations of all Aboriginal Victorians, and include the various ACCOs, traditional owner groups and consultative bodies.


See Youth justice


See Criminal justice systemDomestic and family violence, Out-of-home care, Police


See Human rights, Juries


See Domestic and family violence

Youth justice

‘Crossover kids’: offending by child protection-involved youth, S Baidawi & R Sheehan, Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, 2019.
RESEARCH: The over-representation of children from child protection backgrounds in the youth justice system is a significant and longstanding concern. While the association between child maltreatment and youth offending is established, the pathway of child protection-involved youth to criminal justice outcomes has received little attention. This paper presents selected findings of a detailed case file audit of 300 crossover children appearing before the Victorian Children’s Court in 2016–17. Findings explore children’s exposure to maltreatment and other adversity, as well as their child protection involvement, co-occurring challenges, offending and sentencing outcomes. The risk factors for earlier and more serious offending are also examined. Results indicate that crossover children present with more serious offending profiles than other court-involved children. The report argues for the need to prevent, divert and respond to crossover children’s criminal justice contact.

Rethinking sentencing for young adult offenders, A Chalton, A Kenny & H Nguyen, Sentencing Advisory Council Victoria, Melbourne, 2019.
RESEARCH: This report examines the options available to judicial officers when sentencing young adult offenders aged 18 to 25 in Victoria. A subset of this group, young offenders aged 18 to 20, are eligible for dual track in Victoria. Dual track allows a court to sentence young offenders to detention in a youth justice centre, rather than an adult prison, providing they satisfy the eligibility criteria. A large number of alleged offenders in Victoria are aged 15 to 24, with rates declining for 25 to 29 year olds.. The authors state that there is mounting scientific evidence that young adults aged 18 to 25 are developmentally distinct from older adults with research demonstrating that cognitive skills and emotional intelligence continue to develop into a person’s mid-20s, and even beyond. The report concludes that there is potential to improve outcomes for both society and young adult offenders when rehabilitative interventions are offered. Criminogenic environments, including prison, can be counterproductive to this process, as they can entrench patterns of offending behaviour.

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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