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The impact of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on YJNSW-approved research projects - updated November 2020

Current Advice

Research projects involving face-to-face contact with YJNSW staff and/or young people may now be conducted with adherence to local procedures.

Affected research projects

  • All approved research projects involving face-to-face contact with staff and/or young people

  • The approval of any pending research applications where the proposed methodology involves face-to-face contact with staff and/or young people.

Our response 

Following the National Cabinet Meeting on Friday, 20 March 2020, a decision was made to suspend all research involving personal contact with staff and/or young people under the supervision of YJNSW for the foreseeable future. This decision was made to assist in the prevention of the spread of any potential cases of COVID-19. 

On Monday 9 November 2020, the YJNSW COVID Working Group provided the following advice;

Approved researchers can now enter Youth Justice Centres to run programs and / or interview young people and staff for research purposes.

  • Researchers will need to complete a screening process on entry, which includes; answering a number of questions, temperature screening and signing a declaration log to confirm they are well. 
  • Researchers will also need to wear a mask when speaking with young people (irrespective of distancing).

Approved researchers can now meet with young people and / or staff to interview them face-to-face in the community. 

  • Researchers will need to negotiate with Area Managers, as each Youth Justice Community Office has COVID restrictions that may limit the number of people that can be in any location at any given time. 
  • Researchers will also need to follow the screening processes applicable to the community office they are attending and wear a mask for all interactions with young people (regardless of whether the meeting is outside or in the office, mask requirements are the same).

Information for researchers

All research proposing face-to-face contact with staff and/or young people, or non-contact forms of data collection, will be considered on a case by case basis.

In addition, the YJNSW Research and Information Unit will continue to support those projects, already approved, where the face-to-face component of the research has been finalised, as well as those solely involving the provision and/or analysis of data. This support will continue to be provided via email or other online methods. 

Should you have any queries in relation to your research project, please contact the YJNSW Research and Information Unit at Research.JJ@justice.nsw.gov.au

Conducting research within Youth Justice NSW

Youth Justice NSW (YJNSW) views research undertaken in its community and custodial centres as a significant contributor to the development and maintenance of evidence-based interventions for young people involved in the criminal justice system.  

YJNSW, however, has a responsibility to ensure that research conducted in its community and custodial centres does not infringe upon the rights, or jeopardise the welfare of, young people involved in the youth justice system or personnel employed by YJNSW, and that research activity does not impede rehabilitation programs, or the provision of a safe and secure environment.

YJNSW is also responsible for the provision of advice to the Minister on a full range of information in order to assist him to make informed decisions or respond where necessary.

Accordingly, all proposals to conduct research in YJNSW centres/offices require the approval of the YJNSW Executive Director. 

All research proposals and applications are processed through Youth Justice Research and Information Unit.

It is the responsibility of the Research & Information Unit to assess and review all proposals for research in a rigorous manner to determine if the research is appropriate for YJNSW, particularly in regard to our duty of care for young people in our supervision and our staff. This process allows senior executives of YJNSW to review and approve all research in the agency. It also allows for the briefing of the Minister when findings are made public.

Proposals will be assessed with the intention of ensuring:

  • The rights of young people in YJNSW’s care, and personnel employed by YJNSW, are protected
  • The welfare of young people in YJNSW’s care, and personnel employed by YJNSW, is ensured
  • The probity of research undertaken within YJNSW centres and/or offices
  • The research question is of sufficient value, purpose, or significance for YJNSW to justify the expenditure of any necessary time and effort required of YJNSW’s young people and/or staff
  • The research methodology is appropriate and capable of producing valid outcomes
  • The research findings are presented fairly and accurately, and are disseminated.

It is a condition of approval that, upon completion of a project, the researcher provide YJNSW with a report of the findings of the study and grant YJNSW the right to disseminate this report to personnel employed by YJNSW. 

The researcher will also provide participating centres and/or offices, and the participants (young people and/or personnel), with a summary of the study findings.

Researchers will be required to sign a written contract agreeing to abide by the conditions of approval.

The agency reserves the right to terminate research at any time, especially if the researcher acts unethically or compromises the security of the agency/confidentiality of the participants.

All researchers are strongly advised to read the Youth Justice NSW Research Agenda 2017-2020 [PDF, 259kb] and the Policy and Procedures for Applying to Conduct Research within YJNSW [PDF, 1.1MB] prior to applying to conduct research in YJNSW. 

Research agenda

The Youth Justice NSW Research Agenda 2017-2020 [PDF, 259kb] outlines the priority areas guiding JJNSW research activities. 

It is intended to be a guide to assist researchers to identify areas of research that will contribute to the existing body of knowledge that can be used to inform and shape policies and practice, and enhance evidence-based decision-making within the youth justice system. 

The YJNSW Research Agenda will be reviewed on an annual basis and updated following endorsement by the Youth Justice Executive. 

YJNSW priority areas

YJNSW considers the following as priority areas for establishing a research base for evidence-based decision-making;

Research Priority Area 1: Building an evidence base about what works (how, when, where, and why) with young offenders in NSW. 

Research Priority Area 2: Evidence based post-release support with specific focus on reintegration and the continuity of service delivery to young people in the community.

Research Priority Area 3: Early intervention and diversionary programs with specific focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in early contact with the criminal justice system.

Research Priority Area 4: Effective engagement and practice for working with young people with specific focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and young people with mental health issues and/or cognitive impairment.

Research Priority Area 5: Provision of appropriate training, resources, and supervision to staff to ensure continuous improvement. 

Research Priority Area 6: Innovative practice to improve outcomes for staff and young people. 

These research priority areas should not be regarded as an exhaustive list. Rather, they reflect YJNSW’s current priorities and should be used as a guide or prompt for researchers. 

Procedure for applying conduct research in YJNSW

All researchers are strongly advised to read the Policy and Procedures for Applying to Conduct Research within YJNSW [PDF, 1.1MB] prior to applying to conduct research in YJNSW. 

Researchers are also encouraged to read documentation provided on this site regarding previously completed and current projects when considering an application to conduct research. This is to ensure that possible project areas will not overlap with existing, or recently completed projects.

Interested persons should also contact the YJNSW Research and Information Unit (RIU) in the first instance to speak with the Manager or Senior Research and Information Officer, to seek initial support for their proposal.

Documents and links to consider when applying to conduct research in YJNSW:

In addition to the documents above, all researchers are advised to read the following documents prior to applying to conduct research in YJNSW;

The Commission for Children and Young People - Count me in! 

The Commission for Children and Young People have published a practical resource Count me in!, which was developed in conjunction  with the Social Justice and Change Research Centre, University of Western Sydney. This resource contains information for those conducting social research with children and young people.


The Research and Information Unit is available to answer questions regarding all aspects of the application process. Please contact the Research and Information Unit at Research.JJ@justice.nsw.gov.au

Current research projects

Currently, there are a number of research projects and evaluations being undertaken by or in collaboration with Department of Justice, YJNSW.

Case management in YJNSW: client perspectives

  • This project is being conducted by a PhD student with Monash University
  • This research aims to examine and describe clients’ understanding and experiences of case management as it occurs in the Youth Justice system in order to contribute to and improve effective case management theory and practice.

Collaborative family work in youth justice: a model for reducing recidivism in young offenders

  • This project is being conducted by Dr Chris Trotter from Monash University
  • The project is evaluating the effects of collaborative family work (Act Now, Together Strong program) on youth offenders and their families.  

Comparative youth penalty project

  • This project is being conducted by Professor Chris Cunneen from James Cook University and Professor Eileen Baldry of the University of NSW
  • The project aims to analysis developments in the punishment of children and young people over last 30 years
  • The project will compare across four Australian jurisdictions and internationally with England and Wales.

Correlates of Oral Language Skills of Young Offenders

  • This project is being conducted by a PhD student with the University of Sydney
  • The aim of the project is to examine the association between oral language skills, social cognition and emotional reactivity, and the severity of antisocial and offender behaviour.

Criminal identity formation – the aspects of identity development amongst adolescent males in the YJNSW system

  • This project is being conducted by a PhD student with Monash University
  • It aims to thematically examine how such criminal identities may be developed, how they are defined, and how they are maintained. 

Development of core effective practice skills in Youth Justice

  • This project is being conducted with Monash University
  • It aims to examine the extent to which the practices of case workers changes as a result of the coaching and practice supervision program and to examine whether some of the core effective practice skills develop more than others.

Growing up with family trauma and violence: positive and negative interpretations in young adult life

  • This project is being conducted by a Masters student from the University of Newcastle
  • The study aims to explore personal meaning and sense making for people with a shared experience of family trauma and to examine the positive and negative interpretations of young adults who grew up with such experiences.

Policing young people in care – impacts of not-for-profit carer decision making on sentencing and bail

  • This project is being conducted by Dr Alison Gerard, Dr Andrew McGrath and Dr Emma Colvin of Charles Sturt University
  • This project seeks to expand on research by McFarlane (2010) which has shown that young people in out of home care are 68 times more likely to appear in Children’s Court than young people not in care
  • In particular, the project seeks to examine the role that out-of-home carers play in policing young people.

Positive pathways for vulnerable adolescents: the role of a life management program approach

  • This project is being conducted by Dr Sally Nathan of the University of NSW
  • This project seeks to examine the short and longer term outcomes and pathways of young people who participate in the Ted Noffs’ Program for Adolescent Life Management (PALM).

Prevalence of Hearing Loss and Spatial Processing Disorder in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adolescents in Youth Justice Centres

  • This project is being conducted by researchers from the National Acoustic Laboratories in collaboration with JH&FMHN.
  • The research aims to determine the prevalence of hearing loss, spatial processing disorder and self-reported hearing issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in custody.

Stages of psychosis in the prison population

  • This project is being conducted by Associate Professor Kimberlie Dean from the University of NSW
  • The aim of this project is to establish the prevalence of ultra-high risk, first episode psychosis and established psychosis within the population of incarcerated young people
  • The study will examine the relationship between different stages of psychosis and offending.  

Towards an effective practice model for youth detention in NSW

  • This project is being conducted in partnersip with Monash University, Swinburne University, and UNSW.
  • This project aims to determine the relationship between the implementation of a best practice model (CEPS) in NSW Youth Justice Detention Centres and the outcomes for staff and young people in those Centres.

Under-utilising youth diversion: exploring multiple perspectives

  • This project is being conducted by a PhD student with the University of Western Sydney
  • The aims of this research project are to; explore police attitudes and understanding of diversion, as well as magistrates attitudes and understanding of diversion
  • It also aims to identify the political and policy constraints and opportunities surrounding the pursuit of existing forms of diversion for Indigenous youth from the perspective of key practitioners
  • It further seeks to gather information and suggestions on the reforms in the child welfare and youth justice system that practitioners believe are necessary to maximise access to diversion.

Young People in Custody Health Survey (YPiCHS)




Young People on Community Orders Health Survey (YPoCOHS) 2003-2006

Publications arising from approved research projects

Please note: The views expressed in the following publications do not necessarily represent any official views of YJNSW. 

Aboriginal young people

Adolescent sex offenders


  • Pearce, E. (2019). Under-Utilising Youth Diversion: Exploring Criminal Justice Perspectives (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia.


Fire offences

Interpersonal violence


  • Porter, C. (2018). Can mindfulness with incarcerated youth reduce impulsivity, anger and institutional misconduct? A randomised controlled trial (Unpublished master's thesis). Australian College of Applied Psychology, Sydney, Australia.

Music programs

Program attrition

  • Nastaly, J. (2019). Program attrition among youth and its relationship with reoffending from the Changing Habits and Reaching Targets (CHART) program (Unpublished master's thesis). University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Psychopathology and behaviour 

  • Brandler, A.L. (2015). Do Incarcerated Boys with Callous Unemotional Traits Benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
  • Cooney, A. (2014). How Does Empathy in Juvenile Justice Work? Empathy as context for Juvenile Justice Officers in working with young people who offend: assessment, intervention, attitude, positioning, and motivation (Unpublished master’s thesis). Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. 

Risk profiles

Speech and language functioning

Supervision skills for working with young people 

Transition and reintegration after release from juvenile detention

Youth Justice Conferencing in NSW

Youth level of service/case management inventory - Australian adaptation

Youth People in Custody Health Survey project

Relevant resources

Links to published statistics on youth offending

  • The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research publish the NSW Criminal Court Statistics Report, which has a specific section for Children's Court outcomes. This report contains information provided by Youth Justice. NSW Recorded Crime Statistics reports are published annually by the Bureau and these reports are available on their website from 1997. 

  • The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) The Australian Institute of Criminology publishes a range of research papers detailing crime figures and trends, along with technical and background reports on specific areas, such as youth detention. 

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics - National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics The National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics of the Australian Bureau of Statistics provide a number of annual Crime and Justice publications that include information about crime rates among youth. The ABS also provides population information through the Census, which can be accessed here.

  • Report on Government Services (ROGS) The Report on Government Services is an annual report providing information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia. In 2018, Chapter 18 reported on the performance of governments in providing youth justice services.

  • Audit Office of NSW The NSW Auditor General’s Financial Audit Report on Justice analyses the results of the financial statement audits of Justice cluster entities for each year ending June 30. The annual cost per youth detainee for 2013-2017 is shown on page 39 of the 2017 report.  

  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) The AIHW produces reports and other information products, on key health and welfare issues in Australia. These include annual reports and fact sheets on Youth Justice in Australia, Youth Detention Population in Australia, and Young People Returning to Sentenced Youth Justice Supervision.

Other relevant research links and publications:

Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People 
The Advocate for Children and Young People is an independent statutory office reporting to the NSW Parliament through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Children and Young People. The Advocate’s role includes conducting research into children’s issues, monitoring children’s well-being, and holding inquiries into important issues relating to children and young people.