Australian Report reveals link between child protection and youth justice supervision

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has recently released a report exploring the link between child protection and youth justice contact. The report Young People in Child Protection and Under Youth Justice Supervision 2013 – 14 found that 24% of young people in youth justice detention were also in the child protection system in the same year. The report also found that those who were younger at first contact with the youth justice system were more likely to also be in child protection.

The report reflects outcomes from other studies looking at links between victimisation, maltreatment, child protection and juvenile justice: The 2008 Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW found that 28% males and 39% females under youth justice supervision had a history of child protection and placements in out-of-home-care (OOHC). A 2010 study by McFarlane found that over a third (34%) of young people appearing in the Children’s Court had placements in OOHC. In 2011, Cashmore explored the nexus between abuse, neglect and offending which is available to read here. More recently, a study by Fernandez and colleagues found that many of the young people in the juvenile justice system have a history of contact with child protection departments and many have had multiple OOHC placements.

While there is clearly a growing body of research demonstrating the relationship between welfare and justice systems, the AIHW publication is the first of its kind using a new national linked database. Such a positive step in data linkage allows for exploration of the pathways through these systems, and can assist case workers, researchers and policy makers to work towards optimal outcomes for children and their families.
(Source: CrimNet, Institute of Criminology, University of Sydney, February 22,2016)