Family support and the children’s court

Dr Emma Colvin1, Associate Professor Alison Gerard1, Associate Professor Kath McFarlane1, Dr Andrew McGrath1

1Charles Sturt University, , Australia

This paper presents some of the findings from a Criminology Research Council funded project into the criminalisation of children with care experience. The study drew on observations in the NSW Children’s Court, analysis of court files, and interviews with practitioners. Utilising these innovative mixed methods this study offers a comprehensive and contextualised understanding of how children with care experience are over-represented in the criminal justice system. In particular, this paper will focus on the value placed on having family support in the courtroom. The paper examines how family support was presented in defence submissions and the way family presence in the court was perceived by Magistrates.


Dr Colvin is a Lecturer at the Centre for Law and Justice, Charles Sturt University. She is the Co-Editor of Salus Journal and the former Editor of PacifiCrim, the newsletter of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology. She was the Managing Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology (2010-2012). Dr Colvin is currently working on two Criminology Research Council funded research projects on bail decision-making in Australia and the criminalisation of children in out-of-home-care.