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Home List of Titles 'A lawyer is an angel with wings and fists for fighting': lawyers representing children and young people in child protection proceedings in Victoria
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/229263
- 'A lawyer is an angel with wings and fists for fighting': lawyers representing children and young people in child protection proceedings in Victoria
- Horsfall, Briony
- This title comes from Luke, a 9-year-old boy who has been involved in child protection proceedings since he was an infant. Like most children over seven years of age in this jurisdiction, Luke's lawyer represented him on a direct instructions model. The legal representation of children has been the subject of debate in Victoria, with doubts raised about children's capacities to participate in proceedings in this way and concerns that lawyers are not well suited to work in sensitive child protection matters. This paper describes preliminary findings from ethnographic research conducted over seven months with lawyers, children and young people in the Children's Court of Victoria. Forty-three cases were observed in which 29 lawyers and 62 children and young people were involved. Evidence of a 'hybrid discourse' of welfare and justice has emerged, whereby lawyers meaningfully respond to children as active citizens with both rights to protection from harm and participation in decisions. A culture of practice has been revealed in which lawyers engage with children and young people to scaffold participation while adapting to degrees of maturity and complexity of allegations of abuse. However, system constraints limited children's participation; these included service fragmentation, bureaucratic practices and the court environment. These preliminary findings indicate that, in child protection proceedings, having an angel with fighting fists is essential for children to be heard.
- Publication type
- Conference paper
- Paper presented at 'Family Transitions and Trajectories', the 12th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 25-27 July 2012
- Publication year
- Child protection; Children; Lawyers; Legal proceedings; Legal representation; Victoria
- Australian Institute of Family Studies
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2012.
- Peer reviewed