Hayley Passmore1,3, Raewyn Mutch1,2,3, Sharyn Burns4, Guy Hall5, Jonathan Carapetis1, Carol Bower1
1Telethon Kids Institute, Subiaco, Australia, 2Department of Health Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 3The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 4Curtin University, Perth, Australia, 5Murdoch University, Perth, Australia
Health and justice professionals across Australia are urging for an increase in services to better support young people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and other brain impairments involved with the justice system. Knowledge of FASD among young people sentenced to a period of detention is increasing, with a prevalence study ascertaining that 36% of young people sentenced to detention have FASD, and 89% are severely impaired in at least one domain of brain function. However, to date there has been no investigation into the capacity of custodial staff to identify and manage young people in Australian detention centres with FASD or similar impairments, nor have there been published interventions aiming to develop environments appropriate for those with FASD in detention.
The current knowledge and practices relating to FASD and other brain impairments among the custodial workforce at the only youth detention centre in Western Australia were determined using mixed methods. These data informed the development and evaluation of training resources (a series of short, educational videos) aiming to upskill the custodial workforce in the management strategies most appropriate for young people in detention with such impairments. The efficacy of these training resources will be discussed, with particular relevance to improving staff knowledge and awareness of impairments, and their receptiveness to adapting management strategies according to the needs of young people in their care.
Given the high rates of impairment among young people in detention in Australia, all staff involved in the care of detained young people should receive comprehensive training about FASD and other brain impairments and appropriate management strategies.
Hayley Passmore is a PhD Candidate at the Telethon Kids Institute and School of Paediatrics and Child Health, The University of Western Australia. Hayley has qualifications in Criminology and Psychology. She has previous experience working with adult offenders and their families, and with vulnerable children and families across Western Australia. Hayley currently works in the Alcohol, Pregnancy and FASD research group at the Telethon Kids Institute, and is in the final year of her PhD on the workforce development component of the NHMRC funded project titled ‘A feasibility study of screening, diagnosis and workforce development to improve the management of youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the justice system’. Hayley also teaches Criminology units at the School of Law, Murdoch University.