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2. BACKGROUND It is well

2. BACKGROUND It is well established that for a variety of reasons, young people living in residential services are at increased risk of coming into contact with police and other parts of the criminal justice system. 5 In NSW, less than 3% of young people in OOHC live in residential care – about 480 young people. 6 However, these young people have typically experienced numerous placement breakdowns and often present with multiple, complex needs. The placement of these young people in residential care aims to provide a safe and supportive environment in which to address the combined impacts of abuse, neglect and separation from family. In 2008, the link between OOHC and contact with the criminal justice system was highlighted by the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, which observed that significant proportions of juvenile detainees had a history of being placed in care. 7 In its 2011 issues paper, The Drift from Care to Crime, 8 Legal Aid NSW identified a growing trend towards the criminalisation of young people living in OOHC. According to the Children’s Legal Service, a large number of their ‘high service user’ clients have a history of being in OOHC, with a significant proportion of these having lived in residential services. In NSW, residential care is primarily provided by accredited non-government OOHC agencies funded by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS). Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) also provide care and accommodation for young people with backgrounds of trauma and/or neglect. It is anticipated that this Protocol will be extended to SHS in future. The NSW Police Force (NSWPF) has responsibilities under the Young Offenders Act 1997 (YOA) to divert young people from the criminal justice system. The NSWPF Youth Strategy also promotes the use of collaborative approaches to policing young people. The NSW Police Force Corporate Plan 2012-2016 explicitly endorses prevention and early intervention strategies for young offenders and has set a target of diverting at least 58% of young offenders from court. 5 Legal Aid NSW, The Drift from Care to Crime: A Legal Aid NSW Issues Paper, October 2011; Katherine McFarlane, From Care to Custody: Young Women in Out-of-Home Care in the Criminal Justice System, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, Vol 22. No. 2, November 2010, p. 345; Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, 2008. 6 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child Protection Australia 2012-13, Child welfare series no. 58, 2013. 7 Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW, 2008. The Commission reported that between 2003 and 2006, 28% of male and 39% of female juvenile detainees had a history of OOHC. 8 Legal Aid NSW, The Drift from Care to Crime: A Legal Aid NSW Issues Paper, October 2011. 4

2.1. Trauma and challenging behaviour Many young people in OOHC have experienced ‘complex trauma’ – exposure to multiple and ongoing interpersonal trauma such as abuse, neglect or emotional or physical deprivation. 9 The impact of past experiences of trauma often surface for young people in a range of disruptive and difficult behaviours harmful to themselves and/or others. These behaviours are often referred to as ‘challenging behaviours’. Challenging behaviours can involve risk taking, poor impulse control, resistance to boundaries (for example being absent from care without permission) and in some situations, can escalate into violent and/or criminal behaviour. 10 While some challenging behaviour exhibited by young people in residential services may meet the threshold of criminal behaviour, the same behaviour occurring in family homes would likely be managed without the involvement of police. Challenging behaviours need to be managed in the residential care environment in a way that not only supports the young person who is exhibiting the behaviours but also ensures the safety of all residents and workers. Residential services have a duty to ensure the safety of their staff and the young people in their care. Police are also responsible for taking action to ensure community and individual safety. A ‘trauma informed’ approach recognises the presence of trauma symptoms; and acknowledges the role of trauma in patterns of behaviour and aims to support young people to manage their emotions and regulate their behaviour. A key responsibility for those involved in providing care to this group of young people is to provide planned, positive and supportive strategies to assist them to work towards more positive patterns of behaviour, and where possible, to avoid more punitive approaches. Individual Behaviour Support Plans (BSPs) can be useful in identifying strategies to assist carers and young people to manage behaviour. A trauma informed approach also seeks to protect young residents in residential services from further trauma caused by conflict with, or victimisation from, other young people living at the service. It is important that ‘client mix’ is a key consideration in the placement of young people and that the needs and views of any victim are always taken into consideration when responding to incidents at residential service. 2.2. Interagency collaboration Young people with complex and multiple needs are likely to require the combined support of a number of different services and agencies. The parties to this Protocol share a commitment to working collaboratively on early intervention and prevention strategies which support vulnerable young people, enhance their wellbeing and assist them to develop 9 Toro, Dworsky and Fowler 2007; Kezelman and Stavropoulos 2012, cited in Youth Health Resource Kit, NSW Kids and Families, 2014, p.84. 10 Other examples of challenging behaviour include stress intolerance; alcohol and other substance abuse; self-harming; behaviours; social isolation and limited capacity to form relationships with peers and/or adults; sexually inappropriate behaviour; anti-social behaviours, including aggression and or violence towards people, and in some instances, criminal behaviour. (Source: Out-of-home Care Service Model – Residential Care, April 2007.) 5

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