This report explores whether children and young people with an acquired brain injury (ABI) might be over-represented in the criminal justice system in Victoria. It also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the current system in responding to the needs of young people with cognitive impairment.
Interviews were conducted with participants who work closely with young people with brain injury, cognitive disabilities and impairments, and complex trauma. The findings uncover limited identification and diagnosis of ABI; young people’s difficulties comprehending legal and administrative processes; the interaction between ABI, complex trauma and co-occurring conditions; inappropriate or indifferent responses by criminal justice agencies; and that living with an ABI is precarious, in and out of the system.
Appropriate, individualised support for young people with ABI should be provided at an early stage to reduce over-representation and entrenchment in criminal justice systems.