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Children, youth and families

Exploring the legal dimensions of child protection and family law

We aim to bring about meaningful change and development to the laws surrounding children, youth and families.

Our vision

To promote the wellbeing of children and young people and to support healthy family life through socio-legal and criminological research that brings about improvements to the legal system. This includes work on:

  • criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse
  • child protection
  • family law
  • juvenile justice
  • child migrants and refugees.

Our work

Our research has a number of major themes:

  • A four-year Australian Research Council (ARC)-funded research program on prosecutorial discretion in child sexual abuse cases involving Professor Judith Cashmore, Professor Patrick Parkinson (now at UQ) and Professor Rita Shackel, Adjunct Professor Nicholas Cowdery and others, following from a report for the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Evaluating the NSW government pilot program to assess the role of witness intermediaries and other measures in facilitating the process for child witnesses (Professor Cashmore and Professor Shackel).
  • ARC-funded research on decision making in the Children’s Court in care and protection matters (Professor Cashmore)
  • Advice and analysis of a large-scale longitudinal study of children aged 0-17 years who entered care in NSW on court orders over an 18-month period (Pathways of Care) (Professor Cashmore)
  • Analysis of adoption judgements for children from out-of-home care (Professor Cashmore)
  • ARC-funded research on the protection of refugee children and youth. 
  • ARC-funded longitudinal project on parental relocation, examining the outcomes for children and their parents following relocation disputes (Professor Cashmore and former colleague Professor Parkinson)
  • Gendered aspects of violence and its impact on women and girls and on family life and whole communities
  • ARC-funded project on family law in the Islamic community (Dr Ghena Krayem)
  • Family dispute resolution and cultural diversity (Dr Ghena Krayem).
  • A review (led by Associate Professor Garner Clancey) of the Objective Detainee Classification System for Juvenile Justice NSW was undertaken in 2017. This review involved interviewing in excess of 100 staff and analysing 37,000 client records.
  • Preliminary research (led by Associate Professor Garner Clancey) into the effectiveness of Youth Case Managers (NSW Police Force) in preventing youth-crime was conducted throughout 2017. Recommendations arising from this report suggested new ways of allocating police resources to prevent and reduce youth crime. 
  • A Criminology Research Council funded project exploring young people’s practices and perceptions of sexting (Professor Thomas Crofts and Professor Murray Lee).
  • Criminal responsibility of children (Professor Thomas Crofts).

Our experts 

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