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Juvenile Justice research agenda

Juvenile Justice considers the following as priority areas for establishing a research base for evidence-based decision-making.

  • Prevention and early intervention with specific focus on secondary/selected intervention for young people in early contact with the Criminal Justice System;
  • Evidence based post-release support programs;
  • Bail and Remand;
  • Comparative cost-benefit analysis of interventions;
  • Effective engagement and practice for working with young people with specific focus on indigenous young people and young people with mental health issues and/or cognitive impairment;
  • Building evidence base about what works to reduce re-offending in young offenders in NSW.

The agenda will be reviewed on an annual basis and updated following endorsement by the Juvenile Justice Executive Committee.

Application procedure to conduct research

Outline of the application process

In March 2011, Juvenile Justice revised its procedures for applying to conduct research. All research applications are now processed through Juvenile Justice's Research and Information Unit.

All researchers are strongly advised to read this document, in conjunction with the Juvenile Justice Research Agenda, the Juvenile Justice Research Policy (PDF 285kb) and Juvenile Justice Conditions of approval documents prior to applying to conduct research in Juvenile Justice.

Researchers are also encouraged to read documentation provided on this site regarding previously completed and current projects in Juvenile Justice when considering an application to conduct research. This is to ensure that possible project areas will not overlap with existing, or recently completed projects.

Steps in the application process

Step one: Initial application

After reading all Agency information on research, contact the Research and Information Unit (RIU) Manager on (02) 9219 9515 or Research Psychologist on (02) 9219 9458. You will need to provide an outline of the proposed area for investigation. You are advised to have formulated your specific research questions prior to contacting the Agency.

Step two: First screening

The Agency will then assess whether your area of interest meets its priorities for research. If the research area is assessed as not being within the Agency's priorities, then the application will not proceed past this point.

Step three: Supplementary information

If the area is within the Agency's priorities and is seen as potentially offering some benefit, then you will be required to answer a short checklist so that Juvenile Justice can assess costs and benefits to the Agency, and the impact on the young people under the Agency's supervision.

Step four: Second screening

The Agency will then assess the benefits of the research, and the viability of conducting the research i.e. can the Agency support it and what is the potential impact on resources and provision of service? If the research is not deemed viable, or the benefits are not realisable/attainable, then the application will not progress further.

Step five: Invitation to submit a full application

If the research is seen as viable and beneficial, then the Agency will invite the submission of a full research application. The application forms to conduct research in the Agency will then be provided.

Step six: Submission of full research application

The researcher will need to submit the research application for review by the Agency's Research Steering Committee, ensuring the following areas are addressed:

  • Detailed explanation of the benefits of your research to the Agency.
  • Details of all operational and Central Office resources required to assist the research project including staff assistance and infrastructure.
  • Details of all potential costs that may be incurred by the Agency.
  • A proposed schedule for data collection, including estimated time frames at each data collection site.
  • A copy of all instruments/data collection tools to be used.
  • A sound rationale for each data item to be collected or analysed.

A copy of ethics approval from a recognised Ethics Committee will need to be provided with your application. You may also need to seek ethics approval from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AHMRC) if the research is concentrating on Aboriginal young people. Applications without evidence of ethics approval will not be processed.

Further information regarding ethics approvals for human research can be accessed through the following sites:

Step seven: Consideration by the Juvenile Justice Research Steering Committee (RSC)

The Juvenile Justice RSC will consider the research application and if it believes the research is of significant benefit to the Agency, then the application will be sent to the Juvenile Justice Chief Executive with a recommendation for approval. The Chief Executive makes the final decision on the research- without this approval in writing the project cannot proceed.

If the Juvenile Justice RSC does not recommend approval, then the researcher will be notified of this decision.

Step eight: Coordination/implementation of approved research

The Research and Information Unit (RIU) will coordinate the administration for research projects within the Agency. The researcher will be required to sign an agreement accepting the conditions for conducting research in the Agency. These conditions are provided in the document Conditions of approval for conducting research, which is available on this site.

Step nine: Completion of research

The researcher undertakes and completes the research project, abiding by the conditions set out in the research agreement. At the completion of the project, the researcher must provide information back to Juvenile Justice regarding their findings, as specified in the research agreement.

No data can be released or presented publicly without the prior approval of of Juvenile Justice. This condition applies to all releases, including those being considered after the main study has been concluded.

The Research and Information Unit is available to answer questions regarding all aspects of the application process. Please contact the Research and Information Unit Manager on (02) 9219 9515 or Research Psychologist on (02) 9219 9458.

Conditions for approved projects

The conditions of receiving approval to conduct research in Juvenile Justice are detailed below. Researchers will be required to sign a written contract agreeing to abide by the conditions.

The agency reserves the right to terminate research at any time, especially if the researcher acts unethically or compromises the security of the agency/confidentiality of the participants.

Please carefully consider the following conditions in your project design if you are invited to submit a research application.

Conditions relating to participants

  • That the confidentiality of research participants is strictly maintained at all times.
  • That all young people participating in research are treated with dignity and respect.
  • That all participants understand and sign participant consent forms. Any age of consent restrictions must be adhered to, especially with young people under the age of 14 years.
  • No audiotaping, videotaping or photographing of either research participants or juvenile justice sites is permitted. You may seek special approval from the Chief Executive to access these modes of data recording, if it is considered critical to the research, however this would only be granted in exceptional circumstances. If the Chief Executive grants approval, in addition specific consent will need to be obtained prior to the research occurring from both the participant and the guardian.
  • No incentives will be used to promote research without prior review and approval by the agency. Where approval is granted, all participants will receive the same incentive.

Conditions relating to the use of data collected

  • That all data is to be stored according to National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines and disposed of after a period of five years.
  • Information that may identify participants cannot be stored with any data collected. In the event that a master list is required (i.e. for follow-up purposes), this will need to be detailed and approved during the application process, and stored separately to the data. All master lists will be forwarded to Research and Information Unit upon completion of the project.
  • All participant consent forms will need to be stored separately to any paper based data collected.
  • That the data collected is not used for any other purpose except for the production of thesis/research report.
  • All other uses of the data will need prior approval from the agency i.e. publication of results in peer-reviewed journals or books, publications of reviewed/unreviewed reports on the Internet or in other forms of electronic/paper-based media, or presentation of results at conferences/workshops.
  • Strictly no linking of data to other data sources that are held. You may seek permission for this from the Chief Executive, however any analysis proposed through the linking of databases will be treated as a new application to conduct research.
  • Agreement regarding intellectual property of the data.
  • That the researcher agrees to provide the agency with a copy of the database collated, along with any data dictionaries created prior to the conclusion of the research. This should be provided on compact disc.

Conditions relating to reporting and/or publication of results

  • Work in progress will be provided to the Department of Justice - Juvenile Justice on a six monthly basis.
  • That the final results of the research are communicated to the agency in a timely manner, through the following avenues:
    • A copy of the completed research will be provided to the agency.
    • A summary of the pertinent results will be provided to the agency for dissemination to policy and operational personnel.
    • Young people or Juvenile Justice employees who are participants in the research receive timely feedback. This can be through the summary provided.
    • If the research involves conducting testing of any kind (for example psychometric testing or medical tests), then the researcher is required to provide feedback of individual results to participants. This can be arranged through the Research and Information Unit.
  • If the researcher terminates the project prior to completion, all data collected is returned to the Department of Human Services - Juvenile Justice. Written notification of the reasons for termination and an assurance that all data has been returned will need to be provided. The agency will then store the data for a period of five years according to NH&MRC guidelines, after which time it will be destroyed.
  • Any publication or conference presentation resulting from this research will need to contain an acknowledgement of the Department of Human Services - Juvenile Justice as the data source and acknowledgement to the Juvenile Justice Research Steering Committee for approving the research.

Other conditions

  • If there are any substantial changes to your research project, you will need to inform the Juvenile Justice Research Steering Committee in writing.
  • Compliance with the above conditions is necessary before any subsequent research applications will be considered.
  • If at any stage the researcher is found to be in breach of these conditions, the project will be terminated. All data will be required to be returned to the agency.

Research projects

Current research projects

Currently, there are a number of research projects and evaluations being undertaken by or in collaboration with Department of Justice, Juvenile Justice.

Investigating incarcerated and inpatient adolescents� beliefs and adherence to psychotropic medication

  • A research project being undertaken by Justice Health.
  • The purpose of the project is to conduct questionnaires and interviews among patients to examine adolescent's beliefs about psychotropic medication and if these are related to adherence to these medication. Recent research on the determinants of medication adherence has focused on patients' beliefs or perceptions.

Case management in NSW Juvenile Justice: Client perspectives.

  • This project is being conducted by a PhD student with Monash University.
  • This research aims to examine and describe clients' understanding and experiences of case management as it occurs in the NSW Juvenile Justice (JJ) in order to contribute to and improve effective case management theory and practice.
  • Involves in depth, semi-structured interviews with Juvenile Justice clients.
  • In examining the outcomes, account would be taken of the self-reported characteristics of clients and staff (e.g. gender, age, cultural identity).

Indigenous persons with mental health disorders and cognitive disabilities (MHDCD) in the criminal justice system (CJS) in NSW.

  • Conducted by University of NSW in conjunction with Juvenile Justice.
  • This project will build on the ARC Linkage project, People with MHDCD in the CJS.
  • Initial analyses indicate that Indigenous persons have the highest rates of complex needs (multiple diagnoses and disability) and that Indigenous women with complex needs have significantly higher convictions and episodes of incarceration than their male and non-Indigenous peers.

Effective methods of challenging pro-criminal attitudes and behaviour of juvenile offenders

  • This project is being conducted by a PhD student with Monash University.
  • This project explores the specific skills workers employ in confronting antisocial attitudes in juvenile offenders in the context of a supervision relationship.
  • This research will further explore which styles of challenging are more effective with different client groups.

Causes of antisocial behaviour in adolescence

  • A longitudinal study conducted by University of Wollongong.
  • The design of the study is to identify the individual, developmental, and social factors that lead to antisocial behaviour amongst adolescents.
  • Also examining factors that predict the persistence of antisocial behaviour into adulthood.

An analysis of supervision skills used by juvenile justice workers

  • This project is being conducted by Monash University.
  • The aim of the project is to examine the most effective method of supervising young offenders to reduce the likelihood of re-offending and To provide more information about the way in which juvenile justice workers confront young people in relation to their behaviour, how this relates to client outcomes and whether some styles of confrontation work better with some clients than others.

Annual Patient Snapshot Survey

  • This project is being conducted by Justice Health, in collaboration with Juvenile Justice.
  • The aim of the project is to monitor the satisfaction of Justice Health patients and key socio-demographic and health-related indicators.
  • The project will involve collections of the above factors over a 5 year period.

Understanding low risk offenders who re-offend and high risk offenders who desist

  • This project is being conducted by Charles Sturt University.
  • The project is reviewing the accuracy of the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory Australian Adaptation and seeking to understand false negatives and false positive risk predications.

Detainee Behaviour Intervention Framework Evaluation

  • This project will be undertaken by University of Western Sydney.
  • The aim of the first phase of the project is to understand the organisational contexts in which the DBIF is implemented.
  • Overall the entire project will seek to understand the elements of the DBIF that effectively contribute to the improved management of detainees.

Intensive Supervision Program and Evaluation of Family Functioning

  • A qualitative study being undertaken by University of Western Sydney.
  • The study will aim to examine the impact of ISP on the young offenders and their families.

Children's Court Mental Health Screening Project

  • A study being undertaken by Justice Health
  • This study aims to determine the percentage of young people who present before the Children's Courts with significant physical and mental health problems to improve diversion programs for young people who need mental health treatment.
  • This involves conducting a comprehensive mental health assessment, a brief physical health review and associated screening measures on all young people scheduled to appear before selected Children's Courts over a one month period.

Major Research projects

Department of Juvenile Justice (2004). 2003 NSW Young People in Custody Health Survey: Key findings report. ISBN: 0 7347 6518 5.

Cain, M. (1996). Recidivism of Juvenile Offenders in New South Wales. NSW Department of Juvenile Justice: Author. ISBN: 0 7310 8887 5

pdf icon(10.9mb) 2009 Young People in Custody Health Survey (YPICHS) - full report

Due to the size of the 2009 Young People in Custody Health Survey report this document is also provided in sections below to assist with downloading.

The Juvenile Justice Collaborative Research Unit monograph series

Thompson, A.P. & Pope, Z. (2003). An analysis of psychological forensic reports for juvenile offenders. Monograph Series Collaborative Research Unit, No. 3, NSW Department of Juvenile Justice: Author. ISBN: 0 7347 6500 2.

Kenny, D.T, Seidler, K., Keogh, T. & Blaszczynski, A. (1999). Clinical characteristics of Australian juvenile sex offenders: Implications for treatment. Monograph Series Collaborative Research Unit, No. 2, NSW Department of Juvenile Justice: Author. ISBN: 0 7347 6121 X.

Kenny, D.T, Seidler, K., Blaszczynski, A. & Keogh, T. (1999). Profiling Australian juvenile sex offenders: Offender and offence characteristics. Monograph Series Collaborative Research Unit, No. 1, NSW Department of Juvenile Justice: Author. ISBN: 0 7347 6120 1. ​

Publications arising from approved research projects

Publications from the Youth People in Custody Health Survey Project

  • Indig D, Haysom L. Smoking behaviours among young people in custody in New South Wales, Australia. Accepted for publication in Drug and Alcohol Review, 23 January 2012.
  • Moore, E., Haysom, L., and Indig, D. (in press)'Traumatic brain injury, mental health, substance use and offending among young people in custody', Submitted to Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, accepted February 2013.

Research into Youth Justice Conferencing in NSW

Publications from the Drug Use Careers of Juvenile Offenders project

  • Prichard, J. & Payne, J. (2005). Key findings from the Drug Use Careers of Juvenile Offenders study. Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, no. 304. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

  • Prichard, J. & Payne, J. (2005). Alcohol, drugs and crime: A study of juvenile in detention. Research and Public Policy Series, no.67. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory - Australian Adaptation

  • Thompson, A.P. & Pope, Z. (2005). Assessing Juvenile Offenders: Preliminary data for the Australian Adaptation of the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory. Australian Psychologist, 40(3): 207-214.

  • Thompson, A. P., & Putnins, A. L. (2003). Risk-need assessment inventories for juvenile offenders in Australia. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 10(2): 324-333.

Psychological disorders of young women

  • Dixon, A., Howie, P. & Starling, J. (2004). Psychopathology in female offenders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(6): 1150-1158.

  • Dixon, A., Howie, P., & Starling, J. (2005). Trauma Exposure, Posttraumatic Stress and Psychiatric Comorbidity in Female Juvenile Offenders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(8): 798-806.

Publications from the 1999 NSW Young Offender Drug Use Survey

  • Copeland, J., Howard, J., Keogh, T., & Seidler, K. (2003). Patterns and correlates of substance use amongst juvenile detainees in New South Wales 1989-1999. Drug and Alcohol Review, 22:15-20.

  • Howard, J., Lennings, C. J., & Copeland, J. (2003). Suicidal behavior in a young offender population. Crisis, 24(3): 98-104

  • Lennings, C.J., Copeland, J. & Howard, J. (2003). Substance use patterns of young offenders and violent crime. Aggressive Behavior, 29: 414-422

  • Copeland, J., Howard, J., Keogh, T. & Seidler, K. (2003). Drugs and Blood-Borne Viruses: Knowledge and Risk-taking Behaviour Among Detained Adolescents in New South Wales. International Journal of Forensic Psychology, 1(1): 85-91.

Adolescent sex offenders

  • Nisbet, I.A., Wilson, P.H. & Smallbone, S.W. (2004). A prospective longitudinal study of sexual recidivism among adolescent sex offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 16 (3): 223-234.

  • Kenny, D.T., Keogh, T. & Seidler, K. (2001). Predictors of recidivism in Australian juvenile sex offenders: Implications for treatment. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 13(2): 131-148.

  • Kenny, D. T., Seidler, K., Keogh, T., & Blaszczynski, A. (2000). Offence and clinical characteristics of Australian juvenile sex offenders. Psychiatry, Psychology and the Law, 7(2): 212-226.

Forensic psychological assessment

  • Lennings, C.J., Stephenson, J., Cotter, M., Johnston, I. & Jenkins, T. (2001). An evaluation of psychological reports in the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice Forensic Program: An analysis of their effectiveness. Youth Studies Australia, 20(2): 35-39.

Aboriginal young people

  • Troth, G. & Grainger, J. (2000). Psychological impact of custody on the Aboriginal adolescent. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 7(1): 89-96.

Relevant resources

Links to published statistics on juvenile offending

  • Juvenile Justice Annual Reports

  • The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research publish the NSW Criminal Court Statistics Report, which has a specific section for Children's Court outcomes. This report contains information provided by Juvenile Justice. NSW Recorded Crime Statistics reports are published annually by the Bureau and these reports are available on their website from 1997. The Bureau has published a report entitled The transition from juvenile to adult criminal careers, which includes an investigation of the rate of reconviction among juveniles who appear in the Children's Court. Read The transition from juvenile to adult criminal careers report he​re.​

  • The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) The Australian Institute of Criminology publishes a range of research papers detailing crime figures and trends, along with technical and background reports on specific areas, such as juvenile detention. Specific information regarding juvenile crime rates is contained in the Technical and background paper series No. 18: Statistics on juvenile detention in Australia: 1981-2004, which is located here.

    The AIC have released a national report on the Drug use careers of juvenile offenders, which examines the intersection of drug use patterns and criminal careers in detained juvenile offenders. The full national report is available as a part of the Research and Public Policy Series, (no. 67), and a key findings report is available as part of the Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice series (no 304). Both reports are available here.

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics- National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics of the Australian Bureau of Statistics provide a number of annual Crime and Justice publications that include information about Juvenile crime rates. The ABS also provides population information through the Census, which can be accessed here.

Other relevant research publications

  • The Commission for Children and Young People - Count me in! The Commission for Children and Young People have published a practical resource Count me in!, which was developed in conjunction with the Social Justice and Change Research Centre, University of Western Sydney. This resource contains information for those conducting social research with children and young people.