The Banksia Hill Detention Centre Project: Translation of our research in language diversity, language disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among sentenced youth.

Ms Natalie Kippin1,2, B Banksia-Hill-Project-Team1,2,3, S Leitao1,2, A Finlay-Jones1,2, R Watkins1

1Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia,

2Curtin University, Perth, Australia,

3Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity, Perth, Australia

Background: Language diversity, language disorder, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are common among justice-involved young people. Our recent research at Banksia Hill Detention Centre (BHDC) in Western Australia revealed that among sentenced youth, 8 different Australian first-languages were spoken. Two thirds of young people spoke a home language different to that of the Standard Australian English justice system, and nearly 1 in 2 young people had language disorder in the severe range. Further, just over half of those with language disorder, had FASD. These communication related factors have serious implications for equal access to highly verbal legal proceedings and rehabilitation programs.

Research Impact: Our research about the language and communication skills of justice-involved youth has received attention from several agencies. We are now seeing moves by these agencies to improve the way they work with children and young people who may speak a language different to that of them, or who have compromised communication skills due to language disorder or other developmental disorders.

Research Translation: Our poster presentation will provide the audience with a snapshot of our published research results and highlight the impacts we are starting to see from our research. Our ongoing research translation to inform practice, policy and legislation across multiple sectors is important and necessary to better enable all justice-involved young people to access and benefit from the process of justice.


Natalie Kippin is a certified practising speech pathologist and worked in the clinical assessment team for the Telethon Kids Institute Banksia Hill Detention Centre Project. She continues to be involved in this project, undertaking further research on ‘Communication, FASD and Youth Justice’. Her background includes health promotion and experience as a youth custodial officer.

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