Communication, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Youth Justice: Findings from the Banksia Hill Detention Centre project in Western Australia

Ms Natalie Kippin4,5, Associate Professor Suze Leitao4,5, Dr Rochelle Watkins4,6, Dr Amy Finlay-Jones4,5, Ms Carmen Condon4, Ms Rhonda Marriott7,8, Dr Raewyn  Mutch4,5,9, Professor Carol  Bower4
4Telethon Kids Institute, -, Australia, 5Curtin University, -, Australia, 6University of Western Australia, -, Australia, 7Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 8Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity, Perth, Western Australia, 9Perth Children’s Hospital, -, Australia

Background/Introduction: Studies confirm high prevalence of language disorder among justice-involved youth, however little is known about the impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) on communication skills of this population. There are important implications for communication problems associated with FASD, as successful navigation of legal and rehabilitation processes in youth justice demands effective two-way communication. Examining the communication skills among justice-involved youth with a diagnosis of FASD represents an opportunity to understand language strengths and difficulties among a population where a high prevalence of FASD has been documented.

Methods: Approximately 100 young people sentenced to detention in Western Australia participated in a language assessment as part of the Telethon Kids Institute Banksia Hill Detention Centre Project which examined the prevalence of FASD in youth justice (NHMRC Targeted Call for Research in FASD in the Indigenous populations, #1072072). Language outcomes were assessed using standardised and non-standardised methods and analysed according to the major language groups present in the sample: speakers of: Standard Australian English (SAE), Aboriginal English (AE) and English as an additional language (EAL).

Results/Relevance: The communication profiles of justice-involved youth will be discussed. This will include language strengths identified among the sample, and language characteristics of those who received a diagnosis of FASD. Implications for the young people and the youth justice system will be explored.


Natalie Kippin is a Certified Practising Speech-Language Pathologist, working in adolescent language, literacy and health. She was the lead speech-language pathologist on the Banksia Hill Detention Centre project, a world-first study which examined the prevalence of FASD among youth sentenced to detention. Natalie is currently completing a PhD titled, ‘Communication, FASD and Youth Justice’, for which she is also drawing on her qualifications and experiences in health promotion and as a Youth Custodial Officer.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2018 Conference Design Pty Ltd