Justice Access Research Alert No. 79
September 2019
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See Law reform


No bail, more jail? Breaking the nexus between community protection and escalating pre-trial detention, Research Paper No. 3, August 2019, M McMahon, Parliamentary Library & Information Service, Parliament of Victoria, 2019
RESEARCH: This report notes that Victoria is experiencing an unprecedented growth in prisoner numbers, driven by the increasing number of persons who are denied bail and remanded into custody. As of 31 May 2019, 38% of adult prisoners in Victoria were being held on remand. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are disproportionately represented among those remanded. 
This report investigates the reasons behind the increase in the number of people being denied bail and detained in prison in Victoria. Through a comparison of bail laws and their associated parliamentary debates in Victoria in 1977, when the first comprehensive bail statute was introduced, and the most recent reforms, it analyses how risk has been constructed, charting the rise of community protection as a key concern in bail law. The report makes recommendations on simplifying risk assessment in bail decision-making through the adoption a single test of risk and improving risk prediction by the use of an appropriate actuarial instrument.

Children and young people

See Domestic and family violenceJuvenile justice, Out-of-home carePolice


See Indigenous Australians

Criminal justice system

See Bail, Juvenile justice, Law reformPolicePrisoners

Digital delivery of legal services

The digital delivery of legal services to people on low incomes: annual report summer 2019, R Smith, The Legal Education Foundation, 2019
REVIEW: This is the fourth annual, and tenth periodic, report on the digital delivery of legal services for people on low incomes published since December 2014. This report recounts the ‘false dawns’ during that period – initiatives such as the Dutch Rechtwijzer and the AI-powered bot Nadia – concluding that no single overwhelming innovation has emerged. It highlights the gap between legal technology businesses and intractable problems of access to justice. Current developments are analysed by category: guided pathways, automated document assembly, ODR and AI. Ten emergent issues key to discussion of future developments are identified: mapping, evaluation and research; legal empowerment; privacy; legal design; lessons from health; strategic leadership; court/government digitalisation; regulation; referral, triage and online search; and digital exclusion/resistance. 


Disability Justice Strategy 2019–2029: A strategy to address unequal access to justice in the ACT, ACT Government, Canberra, 2019
STRATEGY: The Disability Justice Strategy is a 10-year plan which aims to ensure people with disability in the ACT have equal access to justice. The plan is underpinned by three principles: equality before the law and access to justice are fundamental human rights (as expressed in Articles 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and s 8 of the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT)); people with disability are significantly disadvantaged members of society in being able to access justice; and an ACT justice system which provides equal access to justice for people with disability will be a better justice system for everyone. 


See also Bail
Priorities for federal discrimination law reform, Australian Human Rights Commission, Sydney, 2019
DISCUSSION PAPER: This paper sets out the Commission’s preliminary views on the priorities for federal discrimination law reform. It identifies the need for reform, the principles that should guide it, and the 11 major priority areas for reform to ensure effective protection against discrimination at the federal level. The paper includes a series of questions to obtain the views of the community about these proposals and other issues of concern to the community. This paper considers how federal discrimination laws can be most effective in providing remedies to the most vulnerable members of our community.

Domestic and family violence

Fourth action plan: national plan to reduce violence against women and their children 2010-2022, Council of Australian Governments, Canberra, 2019
STRATEGY: The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 on 9 August 2019, agreeing on five national priorities to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence. The principles are: primary prevention is key; support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children; respect, listen and respond to the diverse lived experience and knowledge of women and their children affected by violence; respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment; and improve support and service system responses
Perpetrators of domestic, family and sexual violence: special collection: June 2019, Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS), Sydney, 2019
LITERATURE REVIEW: This collection brings together peer-reviewed publications and grey literature on perpetrators of domestic, family and sexual violence to provide a resource on the available Australian literature. The paper notes that as the local evidence base grows, distinct areas of research are developing and deepening our understanding of different aspects of perpetrator behaviour and interventions. To make sense of these areas, publications have been grouped into the following categories: general; perpetrator characteristics and patterns of offending; prevention; perpetrator programs/interventions; legal and justice responses; and statistics.


Mortgage stress and precarious home ownership: implications for older Australians, R Ong, G Wood, M Cigdem-Bayram, and S Salazar, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Melbourne, 2019
RESEARCH: This study is motivated by concerns regarding growing numbers of middle-aged Australians who are carrying mortgage debt into retirement and paying off higher levels of debt relative to house values and income. It draws on three nationally representative microdata sources to undertake empirical analyses: the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH); the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Surveys (HILDA); and ABS population projections. The authors apply a combination of econometric modelling, microsimulation modelling and projection techniques to generate a comprehensive evidence base. The findings of this report are relevant to a range of policies and programs that affect both home owners and renters, as well as ageing Australians in general.

Human rights

See Disability, Discrimination 

Indigenous Australians

See Bail

Juvenile justice

Young people returning to sentenced youth justice supervision 2017–18, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra, 2019
STATISTICS: This report measures the number of young people who were released from a supervised sentence and subsequently returned – that is, young people who received an additional supervised sentence after the end of their initial sentence. Chapter 1 introduces key concepts while Chapter 2 describes the rate of return to sentenced supervision at any time while a young person was aged 10–17, for those born from 1990–91 to 1999–00. The data revealed that young people whose first sentence was detention were more likely to return to sentenced supervision (51%) than those whose first sentence was community-based (40%). Young Indigenous Australians under youth justice supervision were 1.6 times as likely as their non-Indigenous counterparts to return to sentenced supervision before the age of 18 (55% and 34%, respectively). Chapter 3 describes the rate of return to sentenced supervision within 6 and 12 months for young people who were released in 2016–17, and were aged 16 and under at the time of release. 

Law reform

See also Discrimination, Police

The effect of lockout and last drinks laws on non-domestic assaults in Sydney: an update to March 2019, N Donnelly & S Poynton, Crime and justice statistics, Bureau brief no. 142, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Sydney 2019
STATISTICS: Interrupted time series models were used to examine the effects of the legislative reforms introduced in January 2014. Police recorded non-domestic assaults were analysed over the period January 2009 to March 2019. Separate analyses were carried out for the Kings Cross Entertainment Precinct; the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct; a contiguous area – Pyrmont, Ultimo, Chippendale, Surry Hills, Elizabeth Bay and The Star casino area; and a group of suburbs further away – Bondi Beach, Coogee, Double Bay and Newtown; and the rest of NSW. In the 62 months following the reforms, statistically significant reductions in non-domestic assault incidents occurred in the lockout precincts as a whole (down 13.3%) and in the specific precincts of Kings Cross (down 53%) and the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct (down 4%). There was evidence of geographical displacement with increases in the contiguous area (up 18%) and the suburbs further away (up 30%). The reforms delivered an overall reduction in non-domestic assaults between February 2014 and March 2019 (an estimated 395 fewer incidents). Displacement of violence to surrounding areas should continue to be monitored.

Legal need

Conducting legal need surveys in the Australian context: challenges and options, Justice issues paper 31, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2019
RESEARCH: It is now over a decade since more than 20,000 Australians were interviewed for the seminal Legal Australia-Wide (LAW) Survey. During that time Australia has undergone considerable change, including population growth, the widespread uptake of smartphones and a digital transformation in service provision. A new legal needs survey is required to reassess the people's everyday legal problems and the extent of unmet legal need. This paper reports on the challenges in designing a new legal needs survey, such as who should be interviewed and what types of problems should be investigated. The author draws on the findings of the preliminary stakeholder consultations conducted by the Foundation in 2018.
Evidence & Analysis of Legal Need, Community Legal Centres Queensland, Brisbane, 2019
RESEARCH: This report summarises the evidence of legal need in Queensland. The report uses demographic information as a proxy for legal need and draws on the work of the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW. Part one discusses the eleven priority groups identified under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services 2015-2020 (NPA). Part two provides region-specific information. Each region is based on the Legal Aid office boundaries and uses SA3 level data. See also Maps

Legal services

See Digital delivery of legal services, Legal need

Older people

See Housing

Out-of-home care

Beyond 18: The Longitudinal Study on Leaving Care, Wave2 Research Report: transitioning to post‑care life, J Purtell, S Muir & M Carroll, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Canberra, 2019
RESEARCH: This report provides a snapshot of how young people in Beyond 18 are faring after leaving out‑of-home care (OOHC) in Victoria and focuses on some key aspects of their transition to adult life. The findings in this report are drawn from Wave 2 of the online Survey of Young People and from qualitative interviews with young people participating in Beyond 18. The study found that care leavers participating in the Beyond 18 study had generally poorer mental health, employment and education outcomes than other young people their age. They were also more likely to have children of their own. Young people exiting residential care had poorer outcomes on some measures than young people from home‑based care placements such as kinship care or foster care, experiencing higher levels of financial stress, greater psychological distress and a reduced sense of control over their lives.


Rethinking Strip Searches by NSW Police, M Grewcock & V Sentas, UNSW Law, UNSW, Sydney, 2019
RESEARCH: Commissioned by Redfern Legal Centre for their Safe and Sound campaign, this report investigates the adequacy of the law regulating strip searches conducted by NSW Police. It provides a legal study of police strip searches in the field in NSW and a comparative review of personal search powers, case law and record-keeping across Australia. It sets out how the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) was intended to guide police. The findings of this study draw on the limited data available on the public record, new data obtained under freedom of information, and illustrative case studies provided by the report’s advisory group to assess aspects of how the law operates in practice. The report contains 12 recommendations for reform.


See also Bail

New South Wales Custody Statistics: Quarterly Update June 2019, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Sydney, 2019
STATISTICS: The latest BOCSAR figures show a significant drop in the female prison population. As at June 2019, there were 946 adult women in custody which equates to an 11.3% decrease compared to June 2018. The number of Aboriginal women in prison fell by an even greater margin, decreasing 19.5% (72 women) in the same period. The figures suggest that the long-term growth in the imprisonment rate in NSW has finally started to slow. Over the last five years, the prison population grew from under 10,000 in June 2013 to an all-time high of 13,651 in May 2018. The adult prison population has since stabilised at about 13,400 prisoners. The most recent fall is due to a decrease in the number of sentenced prisoners. Contrary to the overall trend, the number of Aboriginal men in prison increased 2.4% over the last year (from 2,991 in June 2018 to 3,063 in June 2019).

Social inclusion

See Disability


See Prisoners


See Digital delivery of legal services


See Domestic and family violence

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.
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