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AIC: Care-experienced children and the criminal justice system

The Australian Institute of Criminology has released new mixed-methods research that explores the criminal justice involvement of care-experienced children.

This research builds on previous evidence that has shown how care-experienced children face a range of adverse conditions associated with their previous life-experiences and their experiences in care.

The mental health of defendants was noted as an important issue, exacerbated by the problems posed with obtaining suitable medical assessments for those remanded in custody.

Case file analysis showed that care experienced children were more likely to be Indigenous, have previous charges, have previous custody experience, to have reports on file, to have a mental health condition, to be homeless, to have experienced abuse or neglect and to have educational problems. They were also much more likely to have breached an Apprehended Violence Order.

Qualitative interviews with magistrates and legal practitioners highlighted concerns over the negative experience of children in out of home care. This included concerns that problematic behaviour was criminalised, with matters appearing before court which should have been addressed in other ways. Impaired educational opportunities, mental health issues and a lack of suitable accommodation were all raised as issues faced by this group.

The research is available on the AIC website for free download:

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