Voices from youth detention: Exploring the potential for recovery capital for youth with neurodevelopmental disability

Ms Sharynne Hamilton1

1Telethon Kids Instutute, Perth, Australia

The Banksia Hill Detention Centre Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) prevalence study found 36% of detained youth were diagnosed in the study with FASD, while 89% were diagnosed with neurodevelopmental impairments in the severe range. Around 75% of these youth were Aboriginal and have come from families and communities who suffer repeated injuries as a result of colonisation. Despite multiple agency involvement, few youth had had their neurodevelopmental disabilities recognised and considered.


The Banksia Hill prevalence study is the first of its kind undertaken in an Australian youth detention facility, and the first internationally to concurrently run a qualitative study to understand participant experiences. Multiple participants, including young people their families and professional youth justice staff provided a plethora of information for understanding the unique needs of these youth and their families. The presentation will present this qualitative work.


Exploring recovery capital (including the networks, relationships, concrete assets and values held by these youth and their families and understanding their ‘justice capital’ needs; the neurodevelopmental resources they need to equitably and fairly navigate their networks of care and service provision) allows for understanding a different relationship between all stakeholders: families, communities, governments, and service providers.  Participants will acquire knowledge of Australian Indigenous justice experiences and ideas, inviting a re-vision of how youth  justice can be done.


Sharynne Hamilton is a Ngunnawal woman from Canberra, Australia and a PhD Candidate with the Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia. Her research interests include bettering family inclusion in statutory systems and improving the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities involved with the child protection and criminal justice systems.


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