Justice Access Research Alert No. 82
March 2020
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Children and young people

See also Youth justice
Changing direction: mental health needs of justice-involved young people in Australia, C Meurk, M Steele, L Yap, J Jones, E Heffernan, S Davison, S Nathan, B Donovan, E Sullivan, J Schess, S Harden, B Ton, T Butler, The Kirby Institute, UNSW, Sydney, 2020
RESEARCH: This report presents findings on the mental health of 465 justice-involved young people. Findings are drawn from a wider survey of the mental, sexual and reproductive health of young people (14–17 years old) in contact with the justice system (MEH-JOSH study) conducted in Queensland and Western Australia in 2016–2018. Three-quarters of the sample (75%) reported that they had experienced some form of non-sexual abuse (i.e. physical, verbal, financial, emotional or neglect). Almost one-half (44%) had experienced at least one head injury with a loss of consciousness in their life. Over half (54%) of the justice-involved young females reported high or very high levels of psychological distress. Rates of having ever attempted suicide were nearly six times as high compared with young people in the general population. The findings highlight the need for holistic, trauma-informed social and health care interventions for justice-involved young people.
Framework to reduce criminalisation of young people in residential care, Department of Health and Human Services, Government of Victoria, Melbourne, 2020
FRAMEWORK: For a variety of reasons, young people in residential care are at increased risk of being criminalised and coming into contact with police and the criminal justice system. This framework describes a shared commitment between the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victoria Police, residential care service providers and frontline staff to reduce the unnecessary and inappropriate contact of young people in residential care arising from behaviours manifesting from childhood traumatic experiences. It includes a decision-making guide for residential care workers to determine whether police involvement is required. 
Working together to keep children and families safe: strategies for developing collaborative competence, R Price-Robertson, D Kirkwood, A Dean, T Hall, N Paterson, K Broadley, CFCA PAPER 53, Child Family Community Australia, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne, 2020
PRACTICE PAPER: Protecting children from abuse and neglect generally requires the coordinated efforts of practitioners from various health and welfare sectors. This paper focuses on improving cross-sectoral relationships between child protection and child and family welfare practitioners by building skills in developing and sustaining effective cross-sectoral relationships in the many and varied circumstances of daily practice.

Children’s rights

See also Children and young people

The Children’s Rights Report 2019 – In Their Own Right, Australian Human Rights Commission, Sydney, 2020
RESEARCH: This report tells the story of how well children’s rights are protected and promoted across Australia. It covers the basic rights that children need to be met 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. While most children in Australia live in safe, healthy environments and do well, there are some groups of children whose rights are not adequately protected. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children with disability, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) children. The report makes recommendations to improve child wellbeing in Australia and honour our obligations to Australian children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is the final report of Megan Mitchell, Australia’s inaugural National Children’s Commissioner and covers all her work since beginning her term in 2013.

Criminal justice system

See Children and young people, Prisoners, Youth justice

Domestic and family violence

Kungas’ trauma experiences and effects on behaviour in Central Australia, M Bevis, J Atkinson, L McCarthy, M Sweet, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, Sydney, 2020
RESEARCH: This research explored the lives of 12 Aboriginal women who were clients of the Kunga Stopping Violence Program (KSVP) in Alice Springs Correctional Centre who were incarcerated for alleged violent offences in Central Australia. The research also applied a trauma lens to the life stories of Aboriginal women in Central Australia who have been incarcerated; identified the interventions, services and supports that can divert women into programs to prevent incarceration; highlighted the need for a coordinated service response; and identified service reforms to meet the needs of Aboriginal women experiencing complex trauma. The methodology used for this research privileges the voices of Aboriginal women and therefore gives primacy to the experiences of the women as expressed in their own words. The report includes recommendations for policy and practice.

Drugs and alcohol

Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Pill Testing Pilot for Drug Harm Reduction) Bill 2019: Bill Brief, Parliamentary Library and Information Service (Vic), Melbourne, 2019
BRIEF: This Bill Brief looks at legislative attempts to introduce pill testing across all Australian states and territories. It includes an overview of major stakeholder opinions on pill testing, and brief descriptions of existing pill testing programs in the Australian Capital Territory, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Special Commission of Inquiry into with methamphetamine and amphetamine-type stimulants, Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’, NSW Government, Sydney, 2020
INQUIRY: This Inquiry received more than 250 submissions, visited a range of public and private facilities providing Ice treatment and services, and conducted roundtables and hearings across regional and metropolitan NSW to hear from a range of witnesses including those with lived experience of Ice use. The report makes 109 recommendations in relation to a number of issues including greater coordination of alcohol and other drug policy; decriminalisation; reframing substance use as a health issue; a greater investment in treatment, diversion and workforce initiatives; education and prevention programs; better data, reporting and research; a clear focus on priority populations, especially Aboriginal people who experience disproportionate impacts, rural and regional people and people in contact with the criminal justice system.


Improving protections of employees’ wages and entitlements: further strengthening the civil compliance and enforcement framework, Attorney-General's Department, Government of Australia, Canberra, 2020
DISCUSSION PAPER: Industrial relations can play an important role in contributing to the strength of the Australian economy. Potential reform to, or changes within, the Australian industrial relations system should be measured against three criteria; driving jobs and wages growth, boosting productivity and strengthening the economy, while ensuring protection of employees’ rights. Importantly, an effective industrial relations system should strive to achieve the best overall balance, having regard to the needs of both employees and employers, including those engaged in small business. The Prime Minister has asked the Attorney-General, in his capacity as Minister for Industrial Relations, to take a fresh look at the industrial relations system to identify how it is operating and where there are impediments to shared gains for employers and employees. This paper seeks input from the community (by way of written submissions) about the operation of the framework to protect employees’ wages and entitlements. Submissions close on Friday, 3 April 2020. Submissions should be emailed to


See Housing


Trajectories: the interplay between housing and mental health pathways: final research report, N Brackertz, L Borrowman and C Roggenbuck with S Pollock (AHURI Ltd) and E Davis (Mind Australia Ltd), AHURI for Mind Australia Ltd, Melbourne, 2020
RESEARCH: This report presents the final analysis and findings of the Trajectories research project, which consisted of four streams of investigation: an evidence review of academic and grey literature; a quantitative analysis of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey and the Journeys Home: Longitudinal Study of Factors Affecting Housing Stability (JH) datasets in Australia; interviews and focus groups with carers and people with lived experience of mental ill-health; and focus groups with housing and mental health service providers.

Indigenous Australians

See also Youth justice

Throughcare needs of Indigenous people leaving prison in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, H Tubex, J Rynne & H Blagg, Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice, No. 185, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, 2020
RESEARCH: This article reports on research undertaken in Western Australia and the Northern Territory to develop effective throughcare strategies for Indigenous people leaving prison. The findings are based on interviews with Indigenous men and women in communities, with and without lived experience of prison, and local service providers. The interviews demonstrate that a thorough exit plan from prison is essential. However, for throughcare strategies to be effective, they should acknowledge the context of Indigenous involvement in the criminal justice system and the ongoing consequences of colonisation. The paper discusses the main areas that need to be addressed during imprisonment and after release which form the basis of recommendations. 

Out-of-home care

See Children and young people


See also Indigenous Australians, Youth justice

Inquiry into imprisonment and recidivism: final report, Queensland Productivity Commission, Brisbane, 2019
INQUIRY: The scope of this inquiry encompasses a broad set of issues and areas, from early intervention to post-prison support. Given at least 10 major reviews have looked at aspects of the criminal justice system in Queensland over the last decade and implementation of their recommendations is ongoing, this inquiry has built on those reviews. The Commission has concentrated on the key policy and institutional changes that are likely to provide the greatest net benefit to the community. Recommendations included: the establishment of an independent Justice Reform Office to provide a focus on longer-term outcomes and drive evidence-based policy-making; greater use of diversionary approaches; and moving away from a criminal approach to illicit drugs to reduce harm. To reduce Indigenous incarceration rates, long-term structural and economic reforms that devolve responsibility and accountability to Indigenous communities are recommended.

New South Wales Custody Statistics: Quarterly update December 2019, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Sydney 2020
STATISTICS: These figures show the NSW prison population rose by 3.6% or 470 people in 2019 to 13,635. The prison population in December was only slightly lower than the highest ever previous point – 13,651 people in May 2018.The increase between December 2018 and December 2019 was largely due to a rise in the number of sentenced prisoners (up 4.9% or 417 people). The number of prisoners on remand awaiting court rose only slightly (up 1.2% or 53 people). By contrast, the number of young people in detention remains low by historic standards. In December 2019 there were 275 young people in detention. This is roughly similar to the previous year (259 in December 2018) but 40 fewer than in December 2013 (315 young people). The steady increase in the prison population over the past year is expected to continue.
Obstacles to effective support of people released from prison, M Schwartz, S Russell, E Baldry, D Brown, C Cunneen, J Stubbs, UNSW, Sydney, 2020
RESEARCH: This report arises out of a roundtable held at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2018 with some of the key community sector organisations providing post-release support to people leaving prison in NSW. The report focuses on four broad areas: concerns relating to service referrals and exiting custody practices; the health needs of people leaving prison, particularly with regard to mental health disorders, cognitive impairment and substance addiction; housing instability and homelessness; and the need for long-term funding stability and strong evaluation frameworks. While some of these barriers are enduring, others have emerged more recently in response to the changing post-release landscape in NSW. 


See Prisoners

Youth justice

See also Children and young people

Youth detention population in Australia 2019, Bulletin 148, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra, 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. Among 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, and this fluctuated, at 19–26 times the non-Indigenous rate over the 4-year period. Over the 4-year period, the number of young people in detention fluctuated across quarters with no clear trend.

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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