The Trauma of Out-Of-Home-Care: the criminogenic consequences of, and institutional responses to, care-related abuse and neglect.

Dr Kath McFarlane1
1Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia

The Trauma of Out-Of-Home-Care: the criminogenic consequences of, and institutional responses to, care-related abuse and neglect.

This paper examines the Out-Of-Home-Care (OOHC) experience to explore the impact of abuse and neglect inflicted by agencies meant to protect children from harm. Drawing on original research conducted in the NSW Children’s Court, the paper explores the ways in which a protective child welfare system can fail vulnerable children. Focusing on the involvement of people with care-experience in the criminal justice system, the paper also examines the institutional responses to childhood abuse experienced in the OOHC system, and questions what redress schemes, compensation offers and national apologies mean to abuse survivors.


Dr Kath McFarlane is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Law and Justice at Charles Sturt University (CSU). She is the chief investigator in a Criminology Research Council funded-project, where with her CSU colleagues in Law, Justice Studies and Psychology, she is examining the views of residential care workers, police, magistrates and other frontline professionals regarding children in care’s involvement in the justice system. This builds on her doctoral research into ‘Care-criminalisation’: the involvement of children in out of home care in the NSW criminal justice system’.

Kath has previously held a variety of policy roles in bureaucracy, academia and politics, including as a senior policy officer in the Attorney Generals’ Department, Executive Officer of the NSW Sentencing Council and Executive Officer of the NSW Children’s Court. Between 2011 – 2015 she was Chief of Staff to a NSW Minister across numerous portfolios.

Dr McFarlane has provided research reports and policy advice to a range of NSW government agencies, including the  Department for Women, Family and Community Services, CorrectionsHealth and the Department of Justice. She is a current member of the NSW Corrective Services’ Women’s Advisory Council and sits on a number of non-government agency boards and committees.


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