‘Integrated Therapeutic Justice Care’: Embedding ‘collaborative care’ to address family violence for Aboriginal children and families with complex needs.

Dr Effie Zafirakis1

1Self-employed, Northcote, Australia

Disconcertingly, Aboriginal families with complex needs continue to experience family violence at alarmingly disproportionate rates, than those experienced by other Australians. Optimally responding to Aboriginal children and families experiencing intergenerational trauma with complex needs, calls for more collaborative ways of promoting systemic responsivity. This paper draws on existing research to propose an innovative framework of Integrated Therapeutic Justice Care that calls for the promotion of integrated systems of ‘collaborative care’, across the interface of health, justice, and social care systems. Notably, this framework embraces the promotion of trauma-informed, family-centred, culturally safe, and integrated care, as key components for advancing timely service engagement and supporting early intervention for complex needs families experiencing family violence at risk of justice involvement. It is argued that ‘collaborative care’ may be conceptualized and incorporated as a primary component of Integrated Therapeutic Justice Care, with collaborative processes which may be harnessed to support family wellbeing and care capacity and promote more transformative and sustainable therapeutic justice outcomes. To this end, recommendations are made to embed integrated collaborative care processes in policy and practice. The author briefly reviews the empirical evidence in support of this promising approach and further considers implications for integrated therapeutic justice reform.


Dr. Zafirakis is a qualified lawyer and forensic psychologist with a particular interest in therapeutic justice. Her current professional and research interests are in the areas of promoting integrated care and collaborative care service responses, Aboriginal justice & therapeutic justice models and trauma-informed policy initiatives and service delivery systems. Dr. Zafirakis has extensively lectured in the tertiary education sector , in particular at RMIT University in Melbourne, in the Justice & Legal Studies, Criminology & Psychology & the Juris Doctor in law programs . Dr. Zafirakis has also practiced as a duty solicitor with Victoria Legal Aid. She is a member of the APS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Psychology (ATSIPP) Interest Group, and Active Committee Member of the Reconciliation and Advancement Committee and the Children and Youth Issues Committee– Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).

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