Borrin Foundation Justice Fellow Jennifer Braithwaite: Access to Justice for Children and Young People in Aotearoa New Zealand

Jennifer Braithwaite is the inaugural Borrin Foundation Justice Fellow. She will be exploring children and young people’s access to justice in Aotearoa with a focus on identifying the barriers children and young people experience through mixed-methods research including interviews with key stakeholders and focus groups with children and young people.

About the project

Jennifer will undertake research in relation to children and young people’s access to justice in Aotearoa New Zealand. Access to justice is defined and interpreted in different ways, but at its essence is the ability to obtain an effective and timely remedy for rights violations. Her research aims to determine the extent to which children and young people are able to access to justice in Aotearoa across all areas of the law, with a focus on identifying the barriers that children and young people experience in accessing justice including those faced by particular groups of children and young people. Jennifer will use her findings to develop recommendations for addressing these barriers and closing the justice gap.

Jennifer’s research will involve a literature review, key informant interviews, focus groups with children and young people, and a document review. Her key informant interviews will involve speaking with people nationwide who are working in areas relating to access to justice for children and young people including lawyers for the child, youth advocates, the community law sector, community organisations working with and advocating for children and young people, and academics. This will include interviewing those involved with different groups of children and young people with a focus on those likely to experience additional barriers including Māori, Pacifica, LGBTQI+, rural, disabled, care experienced, and those living in poverty. Her focus groups with children and young people will also have an emphasis on children and young people most likely to experience additional barriers.


Grant amount

$120,000 from December 2020 – March 2022


About the fellow

Jennifer Braithwaite is an Auckland based barrister with a background in children’s rights, child protection, Te Tiriti o Waitangi claims, Māori legal issues, public law, and general litigation. She is the chairperson of the steering committee of Children’s Rights Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, families and individuals that prepares and presents the civil society reports in relation to New Zealand’s compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a kaitiaki / board member of Community Research, and an associate of Child Poverty Action Group. Jennifer has also had a long involvement in the community law movement including ten years in governance and management roles at YouthLaw Aotearoa, as a past board member of Community Law Centres o Aotearoa, and now ongoing work with Community Law Canterbury. Jennifer has a Masters in Law with First Class Honours and recently completed the final component of her Masters in Social and Community Leadership.

“Access to justice is a critical part of the well-being of individuals and societies but it is not evenly distributed with overseas research showing that children and youth are one of the groups with the greatest unmet legal needs.  We need to better understand the extent of this issue in Aotearoa then take steps to close the justice gap if New Zealand is to be the best place in the world to be a child.”

Jennifer Braithwaite, Borrin Foundation Justice Fellow