Children and young people at risk of social exclusion: links between homelessness, child protection and juvenile justice

15 November 2012

This report provides further evidence of the relationships between child abuse and neglect, homelessness and criminal activity.

Current research demonstrates relationships between child abuse and neglect, homelessness and criminal activity. This report presents key findings from analysis of a data set linking three community-sector data collections: Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), juvenile justice supervision, and child protection notifications and substantiations in Victoria and Tasmania.

While this project demonstrated that linking these collections is both feasible and worthwhile, the results are limited by data availability (this project used 3 years of SAAP data, 10 years of juvenile justice data, 18 years of Victorian child protection data and 3 years of Tasmanian child protection data). The accumulation of data over multiple years for all sectors would enable the flows between services over the long term to be identified, but despite the data limitations, the results highlight the possibilities for data linkage in these sectors although caution must be used in generalising these findings.

Key findings:

People with involvement in one of the three sectors are more likely to be involved in another of the sectors than the general population

Almost 15% of young people under juvenile justice supervision had received SAAP support in the year before their most recent supervision and 8% received support in the year after their most recent supervision. For those with a substantiated child protection notification, 6% received support in the year before and 7% in the year after their most recent substantiated notification. In contrast, about 1% of those aged 10 and older in the general population receive SAAP services as a client in a year and about 2% receive services as an accompanying child.

More than 10% of those who received SAAP support as an adult had a history of juvenile justice supervision- by comparison, about 1% of those aged 16 or 17 (the peak age for juvenile justice supervision) are under supervision in any given year. (National figures on the proportion of the adult population with a history of juvenile justice supervision are not available.)

Young people with a child protection history enter juvenile justice supervision at a younger age

Of those under juvenile justice supervision who had one or more substantiated child protection notifications, 21% first entered supervision aged 10-13 compared with 6% of those with no substantiated notifications. Young people without substantiated notifications were more likely to have entered supervision when they were older, with 33% doing so at age 17 compared with 11% of those who had one or more substantiated notifications.

Young people, particularly young women, completing a detention sentence are at greater risk of homelessness

Within 1 month after the end of a period of sentenced detention, 3% of periods were followed by a period of SAAP support-this increased to 9% within 6 months. Young women were twice as likely as young men to receive SAAP support in the month after the end of a sentenced detention period.

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