Care-Criminalization: Children in Out-Of-Home in the NSW Criminal Justice System

Katherine McFarlane

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


The intersections between child welfare, mental health and criminal justice are examined through PhD research based on the casefiles of children in out-of-home care appearing before the criminal jurisdiction of the NSW Children’s Court. Children in care come into contact with police earlier and incur their first charge at a younger age than other children. Despite their mental health needs, they are more likely to be characterised as ‘serious offenders’, resulting in fewer referrals to diversionary options like youth justice conferencing and a rapid escalation to formal court proceedings. They are more likely to be remanded for breaching inappropriate bail and probation conditions and to spend longer in custody than other children. Behavioural issues, disrupted education and social isolation brought about by unstable placements further disadvantages them at sentence, while the absence of parental advocacy at the police station and court exposes them to harsh judicial penalties and the increased risk of incarceration. This presentation explores why children in out-of-home care have such a negative experience of the justice system and questions the appropriateness of current responses to vulnerable children involved in crime.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017
Event35th International Congress on Law and Mental Health - Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 09 Jul 201714 Jul 2017
Conference number: 35 (conference website) (Conference website)


Conference35th International Congress on Law and Mental Health
Abbreviated titleLaw and Mental Health
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic
Internet address


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