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1 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait A presentation to Heads of Jurisdiction by Allan Borowski and Rosemary Sheehan.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait A presentation to Heads of Jurisdiction by Allan Borowski and Rosemary Sheehan."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait A presentation to Heads of Jurisdiction by Allan Borowski and Rosemary Sheehan Launceston, Tasmania Thursday 6 April 2006

2 2 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Content of Presentation Who are we? Who are we? Objectives of the Study Objectives of the Study Background Background Some Past Changes in the Children’s Courts Some Past Changes in the Children’s Courts Possible Future Directions Possible Future Directions Previous Research Previous Research Significance of the Proposed Study Significance of the Proposed Study Methodology Methodology Communication of Results Communication of Results Funding Funding Our Undertakings Our Undertakings What the Study Asks of You What the Study Asks of You

3 3 Who are we? Allan Borowski BComm, DipSocStuds, MA (Hons) (Melbourne) PhD (Brandeis) Allan Borowski BComm, DipSocStuds, MA (Hons) (Melbourne) PhD (Brandeis) Early career in juvenile probation and parole in Victoria Currently Professor, School of Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University. Currently Professor, School of Social Work and Social Policy, La Trobe University. Has researched juvenile crime, justice and corrections in the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom and Australia. Has researched juvenile crime, justice and corrections in the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom and Australia. Books: Juvenile Delinquency in Australia (1985); Juvenile Crime, Justice and Corrections (1997). Books: Juvenile Delinquency in Australia (1985); Juvenile Crime, Justice and Corrections (1997). Proposal to evaluate Children’s Koori Court of Victoria, funding permitting. Rosemary Sheehan B Soc Stud (Syd), MSW (La Trobe), PhD (Monash). Rosemary Sheehan B Soc Stud (Syd), MSW (La Trobe), PhD (Monash). Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University. Pre-Hearing Conference Convenor, Children’s Court of Victoria. Pre-Hearing Conference Convenor, Children’s Court of Victoria. Research areas: child welfare and the law, mental health, family violence and judicial and correctional responses to women offenders. Research areas: child welfare and the law, mental health, family violence and judicial and correctional responses to women offenders. Current research projects look at experiences of children of parents who in criminal justice system Current research projects look at experiences of children of parents who in criminal justice system Book, Magistrates’ Decision-Making in Matters of Child Protection published in 2001 by Ashgate (UK), a study of judicial decision-making in child welfare matters. Book, Magistrates’ Decision-Making in Matters of Child Protection published in 2001 by Ashgate (UK), a study of judicial decision-making in child welfare matters.

4 4 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Objectives of the Study 1. Identify contemporary status and current challenges faced by Australia’s Children’s Courts from the perspective of key stakeholders. 2. Identify the reforms in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and child welfare jurisdiction that key stakeholders believe are necessary 3. Gather information from key stakeholders about the effectiveness of new approaches introduced in recent times into the child welfare jurisdiction and child welfare and juvenile justice systems

5 5 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Background 8 jurisdictions in Australia 8 jurisdictions in Australia The Children’s Court is a dynamic institution The Children’s Court is a dynamic institution Grounds for child protection interventions and the structures for and nature of statutory responses vary Grounds for child protection interventions and the structures for and nature of statutory responses vary Marked differences in rates of juvenile detention Marked differences in rates of juvenile detention Salience and frequency of concerns about juveniles and child welfare matters vary from State to State Salience and frequency of concerns about juveniles and child welfare matters vary from State to State Over-representation of indigenous youth Over-representation of indigenous youth

6 6 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Some Past Changes From joint to separate child welfare and criminal jurisdictions within the Children’s Courts. From joint to separate child welfare and criminal jurisdictions within the Children’s Courts. Developments of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, e.g., family group conferencing, pre- hearing conferences, etc. Developments of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, e.g., family group conferencing, pre- hearing conferences, etc. Increased emphasis on rights of the child and due process Increased emphasis on rights of the child and due process Pre-Court diversionary programs (e.g., Police Cautioning) Pre-Court diversionary programs (e.g., Police Cautioning) Increased seriousness of offences and offenders dealt with in court Increased seriousness of offences and offenders dealt with in court

7 7 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Possible Future Directions Abolition of criminal jurisdiction (advocated by some in US) Abolition of criminal jurisdiction (advocated by some in US) Greater use of problem-oriented courts, e.g., Youth Drug Courts Greater use of problem-oriented courts, e.g., Youth Drug Courts Specialist court with problem-solving and therapeutic overtones, e.g., the Children’s Koori Court in Victoria Specialist court with problem-solving and therapeutic overtones, e.g., the Children’s Koori Court in Victoria Integration of the Children’s Court and the Family Court Integration of the Children’s Court and the Family Court From an adversarial to an inquisitorial approach From an adversarial to an inquisitorial approach Increased use of public-private partnerships in service provision Increased use of public-private partnerships in service provision Greater case management/supervision role for court Greater case management/supervision role for court Problem-solving role incorporating principles of therapeutic jurisprudence Problem-solving role incorporating principles of therapeutic jurisprudence

8 8 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Previous Research No previous Australian studies have sought magistrates’/judges’ views No previous Australian studies have sought magistrates’/judges’ views Overseas studies of judges (US and Canada) have focused on criminal jurisdiction exclusively, e.g., sanctioning ideology, factors shaping case disposition decision, attitudes to remand, sentencing and “binding over” to adult courts. Overseas studies of judges (US and Canada) have focused on criminal jurisdiction exclusively, e.g., sanctioning ideology, factors shaping case disposition decision, attitudes to remand, sentencing and “binding over” to adult courts.

9 9 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Significance of Study Is timely given contemporary debates about the shape of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems Is timely given contemporary debates about the shape of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems Children’s Courts and their judicial officers have never been the subject of a national study. Children’s Courts and their judicial officers have never been the subject of a national study. Focus on child welfare and criminal jurisdictions Focus on child welfare and criminal jurisdictions National focus permits comparisons between Australia’s 8 jurisdictions. National focus permits comparisons between Australia’s 8 jurisdictions. Findings important in informing new policy directions Findings important in informing new policy directions

10 10 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Methodology Step 1: Prepare profile of each jurisdiction to create a broad brush pictures of issues and challenges in each State/Territory Step 1: Prepare profile of each jurisdiction to create a broad brush pictures of issues and challenges in each State/Territory Step 2: 1-2 focus groups in each capital city with key stakeholders (police, legal aid lawyers, Department of Community Services, advocacy groups) Step 2: 1-2 focus groups in each capital city with key stakeholders (police, legal aid lawyers, Department of Community Services, advocacy groups) Step 3: Individual interviews with Heads of Jurisdiction (President/Chief Judge, Senior Magistrate) other city-based and circuit judges/magistrates. Step 3: Individual interviews with Heads of Jurisdiction (President/Chief Judge, Senior Magistrate) other city-based and circuit judges/magistrates. Step 4: Informed by analysis of data generated in Steps 1-3, a mailed survey of all other judges/magistrates who deal with Children’s Court matters, especially in non-metropolitan regions Step 4: Informed by analysis of data generated in Steps 1-3, a mailed survey of all other judges/magistrates who deal with Children’s Court matters, especially in non-metropolitan regions

11 11 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Methodology (continued) Focus group and individual interviews will be analysed thematically Focus group and individual interviews will be analysed thematically Mailed survey is analysed quantitatively. Mailed survey is analysed quantitatively. Duration of study: 2 years Duration of study: 2 years Aim to commence in March 2007 Aim to commence in March 2007 Research Advisory Committee will be established to oversee the study Research Advisory Committee will be established to oversee the study

12 12 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Communication of Results Presentation to of findings to meeting of Heads of Jurisdiction in late 2008/early 2009 Presentation to of findings to meeting of Heads of Jurisdiction in late 2008/early 2009 Executive summary of research report provided to each interviewee Executive summary of research report provided to each interviewee Proactive distribution of executive summary to key figures in child welfare and juvenile justice Proactive distribution of executive summary to key figures in child welfare and juvenile justice Presentation of findings at appropriate fora, e.g. conferences Presentation of findings at appropriate fora, e.g. conferences Ideally, research will be published as a book. Ideally, research will be published as a book.

13 13 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Funding for Research An Australian Research Council Linkages Grant is sought by La Trobe University (with participation of Monash Uni) with the industry partners as the Law Foundations of Victoria, NSW and South Australia. An Australian Research Council Linkages Grant is sought by La Trobe University (with participation of Monash Uni) with the industry partners as the Law Foundations of Victoria, NSW and South Australia. A parallel application will be submitted to the Criminology Research Council. A parallel application will be submitted to the Criminology Research Council. Advice re funding should be available by the end of Advice re funding should be available by the end of 2006.

14 14 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Undertakings To obtain ethics committee approvals as required before beginning the study To obtain ethics committee approvals as required before beginning the study Provide opportunity for Heads of Jurisdiction to comment on draft research report for errors of omission/commission Provide opportunity for Heads of Jurisdiction to comment on draft research report for errors of omission/commission To ensure confidentiality of identity of research participants To ensure confidentiality of identity of research participants To securely store research data To securely store research data

15 15 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait What the Study Asks of You Your support Your support Letters of support and perhaps other documentation for both grant application and ethics committee approval purposes Letters of support and perhaps other documentation for both grant application and ethics committee approval purposes Agreement to be interviewed by the researchers Agreement to be interviewed by the researchers Encouragement of your judicial colleagues and other stakeholders to participate in the study Encouragement of your judicial colleagues and other stakeholders to participate in the study Appointment of contact persons in each jurisdiction to facilitate carrying out Steps 1-4 of the study by the researchers Appointment of contact persons in each jurisdiction to facilitate carrying out Steps 1-4 of the study by the researchers Nominating a representative to the Research Advisory Committee Nominating a representative to the Research Advisory Committee Comments on draft research report. Comments on draft research report.

16 16 Australia’s Children’s Courts Today and Tomorrow: A National Portrait Thank you very much.


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