A disproportionate number of young people in the youth justice system have suffered from adverse experiences and social disadvantage such as poverty, exposure to family violence and significant trauma.
When 14-year-old Claire* sought assistance from YFS Legal she was under a long-term guardianship order and was diagnosed with autism and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Claire had never been to Court before.
Police had attended Claire’s home where she was found to be visibly upset and damaging property. Due to her past experiences, Claire was highly anxious about being physically touched, so she felt uncomfortable and nervous when the police approached her. Police ended up physically restraining Claire, which prompted a trauma-response for her where she kicked out. The police then charged her with assault. Police were not aware of Claire’s past experiences or background, nor that she had a Safety Plan in place regarding her post-traumatic stress disorder.
YFS Legal assisted Claire in attending a Protected Admissions Interview which enabled her charges to be diverted away from the Court. She was cautioned by the police for the charges and received a warning not to commit further offences.
YFS Legal supported Claire to liaise with Child Safety officers and carers so that a more detailed Safety Plan could be developed to assist her when she was experiencing a difficult time. With Claire’s consent, this Safety Plan was provided to police so that they would be more understanding of her needs in any future incidents.
*Name changed to protect identity