Australian Institute of Criminology

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Getting the most out of alternative dispute resolution: Lessons from the child protection experience

Anthony Morgan and Hayley Boxall
74 Leichhardt Street, Griffith ACT - FREE EVENT
11:00am-12:00pm Thursday 4 April 2013

In recent years, several state and territory governments have commissioned large-scale reviews of their child protection systems. In New South Wales, a range of important reforms have been introduced as part of the state government’s response to the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW. One of these reforms has been the introduction of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) at various points of the child protection system. This has included the new model of dispute resolution conference (DRC) and the Legal Aid Pilot in the NSW Children’s Court and the Family Group Conferencing (FGC) pilot program.

This seminar double header will outline the findings from the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) evaluations of these ambitious programs—the evaluation of ADR initiatives in the care and protection jurisdiction of the NSW Children’s Court and the evaluation of the FGC pilot program. They were ambitious because they involved using ADR for incredibly personal, complex and sensitive issues with significant implications for the parties involved. Further, not only did all three programs require a significant investment of resources by the NSW government, they also represented a new way of working for many of the professionals involved.

As well as discussing the impact of ADR in a child protection context, both presentations will highlight important lessons from the experience of implementing these programs in New South Wales. The findings from this research are particularly relevant to other ADR processes operating in child protection systems elsewhere in Australia and overseas. The fact that ADR continues to grow in popularity means that these lessons can also help to inform future efforts to use ADR to resolve complex matters in a variety of other settings.

Anthony Morgan

Anthony Morgan is a Principal Research Analyst with the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses program at the AIC, specialising in the evaluation of crime prevention, criminal justice and child protection programs. Along with recent evaluations of ADR initiatives in NSW, Anthony has been responsible for evaluating the Queensland Murri Court and Special Circumstances Court Diversion Program, the National Community Crime Prevention Program, policing strategies in entertainment precincts in the ACT and burglary prevention in WA. He is currently involved in the evaluation of Indigenous drug and alcohol treatment programs and local government efforts to prevent violence against women. Anthony has also worked extensively in crime prevention, developing the National Crime Prevention Framework and performance measurement frameworks for local government, developing a new methodology for the systematic review of local crime prevention and building the capacity of local government to undertake evaluation.

Hayley Boxall

Hayley Boxall is a Research Analyst with the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses program at the AIC. In her time at the Institute Hayley has developed a body of research investigating the needs and responses to vulnerable sections of the community. In addition to the evaluation of FGC and ADR in the NSW Children’s Court, Hayley recently completed an exploratory piece of research examining the experiences and support needs of male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence in NSW, research into comorbidity among police detainees and a review of forensic mental health services. She was also involved in the evaluation of the Queensland Special Circumstances Court Diversion Program and systematic review of local government crime prevention and is currently researching whole of community responses to violence against women. Prior to joining the AIC Hayley worked as a client support officer with the Victims and Witnesses of Crime Court Support service.