Jennifer Bowles is passionate about the law, especially in relation to children and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Jennifer has been a Magistrate for 23 years and has sat for over half that time in the Children’s Court of Victoria. She is the supervising Magistrate of the Children’s Koori Court and a member of the Judicial Officers’ Aboriginal Cultural Awareness and Intermediary Program Advisory Committees. She has previously been the chair of the Education Committee of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (MCV) and co-chair of the Judicial Officers’ Wellbeing Committee. Together with a colleague she introduced the MCV Judicial Mentoring Program and the innovative sexual offence/sexual abuse lists in the Children’s Court of Victoria. Jennifer is an associate researcher regarding the establishment of a crossover list for children appearing before both the criminal and family divisions of the Children’s Court. She annotated the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 in the textbook ‘Family Violence and Child Protection Law in Victoria’ and co-authored the textbook ‘Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure in the Magistrates’ and ‘Children’s Courts of Victoria’.
In 2020, Jennifer was selected to participate in the inaugural Policy Impact Program, a partnership between the Churchill Trust and the University of Queensland. The Policy Impact Program is designed to showcase Fellowship findings to inform leading public policy decision-makers, media and the community.
Jennifer's article discusses the case for effective mandated substance abuse treatment for young people. She writes about the many children and young people appearing before children's courts who have severe substance abuse and/or mental health issues and do not engage in treatment. This leads to a revolving door of substance abuse and offending. The 'What Can be Done' (WCBD) Model of Court-ordered, mandated treatment aims to break this cycle and steer young people in a different trajectory. Her article is informed by key learnings from international models of adolescent facilities in Sweden, England, Scotland and New Zealand.
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