Justice Access Research Alert No. 75
January 2019


See Disability

Civil law

See Courts

Children and young people

Youth detention population in Australia 2018, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Bulletin no. 145. Cat. no. JUV 128, AIHW, Canberra, 2018
STATISTICS: This research bulletin reports on the number of young people in detention on an average night between the June quarter in 2014 and the June quarter in 2018. The data shows 980 young people were in detention on an average night in the June quarter 2018, of which the vast majority were male (90%), and 60% were unsentenced. The data also shows that between 2014 and 2018, the number of young people in detention on an average night rose but the rates of those aged 10–17 in detention fluctuated with no clear trend. The data also shows that on an average night in the June quarter 2018, more than half (59%) of young people aged 10–17 in detention were Indigenous, despite Indigenous young people making up only 5% of the general population aged 10–17. The findings from the data also highlighted that the trends varied across the states and territories. 
Youth justice report: consultation with young people in out-of-home care about their experiences with police, courts and detention, CREATE Foundation, Brisbane, 2018
RESEARCH: This report, published by the CREATE Foundation, presents findings from interviews with 148 young people across Australia who have been in out-of-home care and their experiences with the youth justice system. From the interviews, three distinct groups emerged based on type of contact with the justice system: offenders, young people who had contact as they had been reported missing and victims. The research found that the majority of young people who were offenders, or who were reported as missing, experienced anxiety and fear in their dealings with the police and the justice system. Those who were victims felt the justice system did not protect them and felt powerless within the system. Most participants reported receiving no support during their initial interaction with police, at court, or in detention, and perceived the justice system to discriminate against young people in care. The report makes a number of key recommendations, including the adoption of a trauma-informed approach within the justice system, as well as improving case management and support for young people.

Crime prevention

See Indigenous Australians

Criminal justice system

See Children and young people, Courts, Prisoners


Data insights in civil justice: NSW Supreme Court, S Forell, C Coumarelos & A Wilson, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2018
RESEARCH: This study of nearly 7,000 civil cases first finalised in the NSW Supreme Court in 2016 provides insights into who is litigating, what types of claims are being brought and what outcomes are achieved. Key findings from the report include that about one in five cases involved mortgagee repossessions, about one in six cases involved family provision claims and corporations list cases were the third most common. One-third of cases were e-filed (compared with the rate of 18% found in the District Court report) but this varied dramatically by list. Half of first plaintiffs were individuals and half were organisations. 
An evaluation of measures taken to increase finalisations in the NSW District Criminal Court, H Thorburn & D Weatherburn, Contemporary Issues in Crime and Justice Number 217, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Sydney, 2018
EVALUATION: This study aimed to evaluate the effect of various court reforms on the number of finalisations in the NSW District Criminal Court. The specific reforms which were evaluated were an increase in the number of judges, an increase in public defenders, conducting special call-overs and readiness hearings. Data obtained from NSW Court Services on the monthly time series of finalisations in the different courts was analysed using ARIMA time series models. The study found that the introduction of the additional judges and special call-overs appears to be associated with increases in monthly finalisations. There did not appear to be a change in the level of the finalisations after the introduction of the readiness hearings or additional public defenders, but the authors acknowledge that these interventions provide other benefits.


Abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults in NSW – the need for action, NSW Ombudsman’s Office, Sydney, 2018
INQUIRY: In July 2016, the NSW Ombudsman’s office commenced a standing inquiry to examine and respond to allegations of abuse and neglect of adults with disability in community settings, such as the family home. The Ombudsman’s office responded to over 200 reports of alleged abuse and neglect of adults with disability, involving family members, partners, or other community members. Among a range of findings, the report demonstrates the need for comprehensive safeguards for vulnerable adults living in the community. Significant issues identified include the need to enhance police expertise in interviewing people with disability who have communication support needs and cognitive disability, to maximise their ability to give evidence and gain effective access to justice. 

Domestic and family violence

Policing domestic violence: a review of the evidence, C Dowling, et al., Research Reports No. 13, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, 2018
LITERATURE REVIEW: This review examines what is known about the policing of domestic violence. Six areas of police involvement are covered: workforce development, reporting to police, first response, prevention of further domestic violence, investigative responses and charging of perpetrators. A systematic search of 10 literature databases, with targeted follow up searches, identified 346 eligible studies. Findings indicate that police can influence the likelihood of further violence, victim satisfaction and wellbeing, and criminal justice outcomes. Improvements to the policing of domestic violence should focus on optimising the implementation and effectiveness of police responses. The review concludes that despite the large body of evidence, there is a need for more rigorous empirical research.


See Indigenous Australians

Indigenous Australians

See also Children and young people

Impact of the ‘Yes, I Can!’ adult literacy campaign on interactions with the criminal justice system, J Wise, et al., Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice No. 562, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, 2018
RESEARCH: This paper examines the perspectives of service providers and criminal justice practitioners of the ‘Yes, I Can!’ adult literacy campaign. This was a pilot study and involved interviews with 22 workers in regional NSW. The findings suggest that the program has the potential to improve the type and frequency of interactions between Indigenous Australians and the criminal justice system. Overwhelmingly, participants viewed increasing literacy levels as key in empowering Indigenous Australians and enhancing encounters with criminal justice service providers. The paper recommends further study and evaluation, including interviewing participants of the ‘Yes, I Can!’ campaign and community elders.
Maranguka justice reinvestment project: impact assessment, KPMG, Sydney, 2018
REVIEW: In November 2018, KPMG released an impact assessment of the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project. The impact assessment is based on data from 2017 and compared with data from 2016. The assessment did not include a statistical attribution or contribution analysis to isolate the impact of the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Project. The impact assessment suggests improvements in the areas of family strength (reductions in police recorded incidents of domestic violence and comparable drops in rate of reoffending), youth development (increase in Year 12 student retention rates and reduction in charges across top five juvenile offence categories) and adult empowerment (reductions in bail breaches and days spent in custody).

Justice reinvestment

See Indigenous Australians

Juvenile justice

See Children and young people

Legal information

Victoria Legal Aid: Information services literature scan, S Randell, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2018
RESEARCH: The purpose of this literature scan was to inform Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) about the efficient and effective use of legal information resources. The Foundation developed a research protocol and search strategy. The inclusion criteria comprised academic and grey literature studies published in 2013–2018. The Foundation identified 69 studies and also examined 34 legal service organisations in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, analysing the channels they use to reach their audience. Three key themes of effectiveness, barriers and innovation and technology emerged from the scan of literature, which are outlined in the report.

Legal need

Locating demand: updating the Need for Legal Assistance Service indicators, C Mirrlees-Black & S Randell, Justice issues 28, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2018
RESEARCH: In 2015 the Foundation developed the Need for Legal Assistance Service (NLAS) indicators. These provide a census-based measure of the geographic distribution of potential demand for not-for-profit legal assistance services from organisations such as legal aid commissions and community legal centres. Following the release of the ABS 2016 Census data, the Foundation revised, updated and expanded the NLAS indicators. This paper describes the revisions made and the development of the new indicators.

Legal services

See Legal information

Legal system

See Courts, Small business

Out-of-home care

See Children and young people

Pathways to justice

See Small business


See Domestic and family violence


New South Wales Custody Statistics: Quarterly Update September 2018, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Sydney, 2018
STATISTICS: The latest BOCSAR figures reveal that the NSW prison population is beginning to show signs of decline. The data is extracted from the Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Offender Integrated Management System (OIMS) and the Juvenile Justice NSW (JJNSW) Client Information Management System (CIMS). The number of adult prisoners in custody dropped steadily between June and September to 13,372, driven by a recent decrease in the number of defendants remanded in custody (decreased by 6.2% since April 2018). In contrast, the number of sentenced prisoners rose by 2.1% between March and September 2018. Little growth in the imprisonment rate over the next 12 months is expected. The data also shows that the number of juveniles in custody is continuing a downward trend. As at September 2018, there were 283 juveniles in custody. 

Service planning

See Legal need

Small business

Access to justice: where do small businesses go?, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Canberra, 2018
INQUIRY: This report covers phase one of the inquiry which sought to gain an understanding of where small business owners go for advice and, when they escalate a dispute, what pathways they choose to take. This phase also sought to understand whether the cost in time and money of escalating a dispute outweighed the benefits. An online survey of 1,600 businesses (with weighted sample sizes) was conducted across Australia. Some of the key findings include that over 9 out of 10 businesses will talk to the other party before escalating a dispute, disputes with not-for-profits were least likely to be escalated, payment times remain the biggest cause of disputes (44%), 3 out of 5 businesses with a dispute first sought advice from a lawyer (62%), and 22% of those surveyed have been involved in a dispute in the last 5 years. Phase two will look at the court systems, explore emerging ideas for streamlining processes and make recommendations to improve access to justice for small business owners.


See Prisoners

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, 2019.
Justice Access Research Alert is a bimonthly newsletter. Please feel free to pass this email on to others who may wish to subscribe.

Contact us:
Law and Justice Foundation of NSW 
Level 13, 222 Pitt Street Sydney NSW 2000 | PO Box A109, Sydney South NSW 1235
T +61 2 8227 3200

The Law and Justice Foundation of NSW uses MailChimp to manage its subscriber list and send emails.
You are receiving this newsletter because you gave us permission to email you or you opted in at our website

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list