Justice Access Research Alert No. 96
August 2022
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Children and young people

Report of the Inquiry into children affected by parental incarceration
Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee (Vic)
Aug 2022

INQUIRY | This report by the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee (Vic) presents the findings of an inquiry into policies and services assisting the children of imprisoned parents in Victoria. The evidence gathering for the inquiry included desktop research, review of submissions from stakeholders, public and closed hearings, site visits and a stakeholder workshop. The report found that the impacts of parental incarceration extend to all aspects of a child's life and that the trauma from parental incarceration can have detrimental impacts on children’s emotional and social wellbeing. The children are also at greater risk of experiencing adverse mental and physical health outcomes. The report found that Aboriginal children are disproportionately affected by parental incarceration, and separating Aboriginal children and parents disrupts connection to culture, land, and family. Removal of Aboriginal children into out-of-home care due to parental incarceration can perpetuate the impacts of historical trauma. The report identifies the impact of changes to Victoria’s bail laws, inadequacies in current data collection, a lack of guidelines to better consider children in justice decisions, and a need for proper and timely support for children. The report includes 29 recommendations and a set of guiding priorities that should be embedded at every point that a child intersects with the criminal justice system.
Support for children of imprisoned parents in New South Wales
Committee on Children and Young People (NSW), Parliament of New South Wales
June 2022

REPORT | This report outlines the findings of the Committee on Children and Young People's (NSW) self-referred inquiry into the impact of parental incarceration on children. The Committee received 28 submissions from stakeholders and members of the public and conducted two days of public hearings in which evidence was given by 18 organisations. A series of site visits and roundtable discussions were also conducted. In the report, the Committee outlines what policies exist in this area and the services available. On account of the effect of parental incarceration on children, the Committee calls for bail and sentencing reform to reduce the number of parents in prison, and for policy interventions to be enacted to support those children whose parents are incarcerated. The report also recognises the role played by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (ACCOs) in providing for parents in prison and their children, and, together with an increase of non-custodial alternatives in Aboriginal communities, calls for greater funding for these organisations.
Adverse childhood experiences and trauma among young people in the youth justice system
C Malvaso, A Day, J Cale, L Hackett, P Delfabbro & S Ross. | Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra
June 2022

RESEARCH | This study by the Australian Institute of Criminology investigates the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) of young people aged 14 and over in youth justice supervision in South Australia. A total of 211 young people were eligible for the study, of whom 87 percent consented to participate. Data was collected through self-report assessments which were compared to administrative child protection and youth justice records. Fewer than five participants reported zero ACEs, with 88 percent reporting four or more. Trauma symptomatology, substance use, and internalising and externalising behaviours were prevalent with more than two-thirds scoring in the clinical ranges on each of these measures. ACEs that were experienced frequently included emotional abuse, neglect and family violence. The study identifies the need for the development of early intervention and prevention programs directed at reducing young peoples' exposure to ACEs.
Evaluating Youth on Track: A randomised controlled trial of an early intervention program for young people who offend
 Klauzner, S Poynton, D Weatherburn & H Thorburn. | NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney
June 2022

EVALUATION | This report presents the findings of an evaluation of the impact on criminal justice and social outcomes of the early intervention caseworker program 'Youth on Track'. The program was developed to reduce the risk of young people re-offending by assigning young people to caseworkers for up to 12 months. Caseworkers delivered interventions, including cognitive-behavioural and family interventions, and were able to refer young people to external services. A randomised controlled trial was carried out between August 2017 and June 2020. The results were compared to a brief intervention program called ‘Fast Track’, in which case management was capped at six weeks and caseworkers did not deliver any cognitive-behavioural or family interventions. Criminal justice outcomes included the proportion of reoffending, entering custody, and the time to first reoffence. Social outcomes, such as education and employment, were also examined. The study found that participants in Youth on Track performed slightly better in certain categories, but that there were no statistically significant differences between Youth on Track and Fast Track in the proportion of young people who reoffended within 12 or 24 months, or the time to first reoffence. Differences in social outcomes were also not statistically significant. The authors suggest variability in the implementation of the program may partially explain these results.
Young people with acquired brain injury: preventing entrenchment in the criminal justice system
G Lansdell, B J Saunders & A Eriksson. | Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra
June 2022

RESEARCH | This report contains the results of a study investigating the reasons children and young people with an acquired brain injury (ABI) may be over-represented in the criminal justice system in Victoria. As part of the study, 27 interviews were conducted with people who work with young people with an ABI. Purposive sampling and snowballing methods were used to recruit participants working in various stakeholder organisations. The study found that young people with ABIs are over-represented in the criminal justice system, but many enter the criminal justice system undiagnosed. The study also found that young people with an ABI often experience complex trauma and co-occurring conditions. The report calls for urgent policy reform with a focus on rehabilitation and diversion, including the use of greater support and welfare-based approaches, in order to prevent entrenchment of young people with an ABI in the criminal justice system.


Criminal Justice System

Estimating the effectiveness of the High Intensity Program Units on reoffending
MT Kim | NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Sydney
July 2022

RESEARCH | This study examined the effects of participation in a program through a High Intensity Program Unit (HIPU) on re-offending and reimprisonment within 3, 6 and 12 months from release from custody. HIPUs are designed to deliver intensive behaviour change programs and reintegration services for people serving short prison sentences. Three different comparisons were run: comparing individuals by program status; comparing individuals by the number of therapeutic hours received at a HIPU, regardless of program status; and comparing individuals using variation in therapeutic hours received, which was restricted to just those who exited the program due to “insufficient time”. Regression models were used to adjust for observable differences between participants. The study found that there were small differences in reoffending for those who did not start a program as compared to those who commenced the program and did not complete it or did complete the program. There were also differences between those individuals who finished a program at the HIPU and those that did not. However, these differences were not statistically significant. As a result, the study provided no evidence of a program at a HIPU reducing the likelihood of reoffending.
'There’s not just a gap, there’s a chasm': the boundaries between Australian disability services and prisons
C Doyle, S Dodd, H Dickinson, S Yates & F Buick. | Public Service Research Group (UNSW)
June 2022

RESEARCH | This report presents the results of a study into the intersection between disability and corrective services in Australia. The study conducted semi structured interviews with stakeholders in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. The study examines how people in prison with disability are identified, the supports and services available to those people, to what extent  the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is available, and the accessibility of these services when those individuals leave prison. The study found that interviewees considered the identification of people with disability in prisons to be poor, and that prisons are not generally well equipped to provide the necessary services. The study also found that there have been many issues with the implementation of the NDIS in prison. It also found that once people with disability leave prison, they continue to face difficulties in accessing NDIS services. On the basis of the study, the authors make several recommendations, including the need for better identification of people with disability entering prison, as well as identification of those who have NDIS plans, and improved training for corrections services. The report also outlines areas for future research.

Domestic and Family Violence 

The choice - violence or poverty: domestic violence and its consequences in Australia today
A Summers | University of Technology Sydney, Sydney
July 2022

RESEARCH | This report investigates domestic violence and the consequences experienced by women who stay in violent relationships, and those that leave. The report is based upon secondary analysis of data prepared Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), along with data collected from the ABS' Personal Safety Survey (PSS) 2016. The author found that 30% of women who had stayed in a violent relationship had temporarily left on at least one occasion but later returned. For a proportion of these women, the reason they returned was that they had no money or nowhere else to go. Analysis related to single mothers found that 60 percent of single mothers had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a previous partner, and for 75 percent of these women, it was the primary reason for the end of the relationship. Over half of the single mothers said that this violence was 'seen or heard' by their children. The report also provides an analysis of the disadvantaged economic situation of the 50 percent of single mothers in the study that rely on government payments as their main source of income.

Investigating the mental health of children exposed to domestic and family violence through the use of linked police and health records
C Orr, S Sims, C Fisher, M O’Donnell, D Preen, R Glauert, H Milroy & S Garwood. | Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Sydney
July 2022

RESEARCH | This report contains the results of a study into the mental health service use and diagnoses of children exposed to domestic and family violence (DFV). The study consisted of a population-based retrospective cohort study of children born in Western Australia between 1987 and 2010 who were exposed to DFV, as identified by the Western Australia Police Force Information Management System. In carrying out the study, an exposed cohort of 16,356 children were compared to a non-exposed cohort of 41,996. The study found that children exposed to DFV had a 79 percent chance of having a mental health contact by age 18, compared to 16 percent of those who were not exposed to DFV. It was further found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were overrepresented in the exposed cohort, with 62 percent of of children being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The report outlines directions for future research and implications of the results for policy and practice.
Understanding economic and financial abuse and older people in the context of domestic and family violence
J Breckenridge, S Singh, G Lyons, & M Suchting | Gendered Violence Research Network (UNSW) Sydney
June 2022

RESEARCH | This report by the University of New South Wales Gendered Violence Research Network is the final in a series of evidence reviews which present current evidence on economic and financial abuse and gaps in current knowledge.  The report, which involved a review of academic and relevant policy literature, found economic and financial abuse against older people is often defined as: misusing, exploiting or stealing older persons’ money, property or assets, and controlling the person's access to money or assets. It found that this abuse co-occurs with a range of other forms of abuse, including physical, psychological and emotional abuse, and identifies a series of risk factors that may contribute to this. The overarching finding from the review is a significant gap in the evidence base relating to the perpetration of economic and financial abuse against older people in the context of domestic and family violence. It recognises this as an area for future research, together with other areas, such as the range of negative effects that economic and financial abuse can have on older people's economic and financial security.
“It depends on what the definition of domestic violence is”: how young Australians conceptualise domestic violence and abuse
E Carlisle, C Coumarelos, K Minter & B Lohmeyer | Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Sydney
June 2022

RESEARCH | This study by ANROWS further investigates results from the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS). The NCAS examined young people's understandings of domestic violence and identified 'areas of concern', including understanding of non-physical violence against women and the prevalence of domestic violence. The study uses a mixed-methods research design, using an online survey and online focus groups with 80 young people aged between 16 and 18 from diverse backgrounds from around Australia. As part of the study, participants assessed 30 fictional scenarios ranging from 'okay' to 'sometimes not okay' to 'not okay'. The study found that participants rated non-physical domestic abuse scenarios 'not okay' less often than physically violent and sexually coercive scenarios. Qualitative findings from the study conclude that young people demonstrate a 'solid' understanding of what constitutes domestic violence and abuse. As part of this understanding, it found that the participants largely conceptualised domestic abuse in terms of equality and fairness rather than gender and other structural inequalities.

Legal Assistance

Legal assistance services outcomes frameworks: a rapid scoping review
K Butler | Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales, Sydney
July 2022

RESEARCH | This report published by the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales outlines the conceptual role of outcomes frameworks for legal assistance services. The report contains the findings of a rapid scoping review collating information on how outcomes frameworks are currently used in the legal assistance sector, and in other relevant human services sectors. The rapid review looked at academic and grey literature published between 2004 and 2021, identifying 36 relevant documents. The review found that outcomes frameworks in the legal assistance sector remain underdeveloped both nationally and internationally, but identifies five relevant emerging examples. The report found that there is no agreed terminology or prescribed approach to developing a framework, however, frameworks tend to have common themes. Issues identified with outcomes frameworks include that not all outcomes can be measured and that frameworks may create unintended and perverse incentives. However, the author argues that an outcomes-based approach is beneficial in encouraging services and governments to tailor policies and service delivery to their clients' needs.


Technology-facilitated abuse: a survey of support services stakeholders
A Flynn, A Powerll & S Hindes | Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), Sydney
July 2022

RESEARCH | This report by ANROWS contains the findings from the first stage of a national project investigating technology-facilitated abuse (TFA) in Australia. The study involved the distribution of an online survey in which responses were obtained from 338 support services workers. Workers primarily worked in the community, domestic and family violence, sexual assault, health and legal services and specialist diversity services across Australia. Survey participants reported that TFA is a significant and gendered problem and that victims of TFA experience significant barriers to seeking help. TFA was also identified as a growing issue in Australia, particularly with the ongoing development of digital technologies. Reported barriers to helping clients with TFA included difficulty in finding up-to-date information, TFA not being treated seriously by police and courts and inadequate responses from technology providers. Participants called for improvements in these areas and the need for additional support and training. The report raises various implications for policy and practice.

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, 2022.
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