Legal responses to child sexual abuse cases in the Children’s Court of Victoria: study findings on a case-management approach

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Abstract

Child sexual abuse cases present Children’s Courts with distinctive challenges. The highly conflictual nature of child sexual abuse cases means they do not lend themselves to the usual adversarial court processes that characterise the conduct of Magistrate Court matters in Australia. With this in mind, the Children’s Court in Victoria established for 12 months in 2013 a pilot specialised judicial list (known as the ‘D’ List) which offered an intensive Magistrate-led case management approach to child sexual abuse cases in the Family (child protection) Division of the Court. The operation of the List was evaluated to assess the suitability and effectiveness of this approach, and to investigate the challenges associated with managing and deciding this class of cases. The findings confirmed that the List provided better management of cases and reduced delay. Given this, the Court is continuing the judicially proactive intensive case management approach and dedicated list for child sexual abuse matters and extending it to regional courts; believing it to be a more effective approach to managing and deciding this complex class of cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-301
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • case management
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Children’s Courts
  • legal decision-making

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