CRG 09/18-19: Young people with acquired brain injury: Preventing entrenchment in the criminal justice system

This report examines whether children and young people with acquired brain injury (ABI) are entrenched in the criminal justice system in Victoria and, if so, why? It analyses the current system’s strengths and weaknesses in responding to young people’s needs, particularly when they are brain injury affected. The findings stem from interviews with adults who work closely with young people with brain injury and complex trauma, either in the social service system or the legal system. Our findings explore young people’s comprehension of legal and administrative processes; the interaction between ABI, complex trauma and co-occurring conditions; the identification of ABI and supports provided; and the appropriateness of responses to young people with challenging medical and social issues. Our findings suggest the need to establish early, individualised support services to counter the unnecessary involvement of cognitively-impaired young people in a system that is not designed to address their needs.