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Report examines pathways leading children with disability from child protection into the justice system

Today the Royal Commission has published a commissioned research report titled Care criminalisation of children with disability in child protection systems, written by researchers from Monash University, Western Sydney University and the Centre for Evidence Implementation.

The report is the largest Australian study to date focusing on children* with overlapping experiences of child protection involvement, disability and criminalisation. It was commissioned by the Royal Commission to improve understanding of the pathways that lead children with disability from their contact with the child protection system to entering the criminal justice system.

A total of 92 professionals responded to the survey and took part in research consultations. These professionals included carers, advocates, legal practitioners and those who have experience working in out-of-home care, family support services and disability services.

When asked about individual characteristics of children with disability in child protection systems at risk of criminalisation, these professional respondents indicated that drug and alcohol use, familial pro-criminal attitudes, loss of connection to birth family, severe mental health issues, and trauma related behaviours were all factors leading children with disability into the criminal justice system.

The report makes seven recommendations, including:

  • The Commonwealth Department of Social Services, in partnership with stakeholders, should develop national policy guidance to reduce the criminalisation of children with disability in child protection systems.        
  • State and territory governments should ensure the availability of intensive family support services for families of children with disability to optimise their capacity to remain safely at home.

It also recommends that the Australian Government and state and territory governments commit to a national inclusion framework to provide policy cohesion in this area which centre the voice of children with disability.

Please direct all inquiries to the Disability Royal Commission media team on 0436 841 166 or via our email


*Except when directly quoting research or policy literature, the terms child or children are used in the report to refer to children under the age of 18 years.