Public Defenders

The Bugmy Bar Book​

The ‘chapters’ below summarise key research about the impacts of experiences of disadvantage, and strengths-based rehabilitation. While a key function of this project is to assist legal practitioners in the preparation and presentation of evidence to establish the application of the sentencing principles in Bugmy v The Queen (2013) 249 CLR 571, these materials may also have relevance in other contexts, including bail, mental health diversionary applications, civil practice areas, coronial inquests and other inquisitorial jurisdictions.

​Index of Chapters

Fetal Alcohol
Disorders (FASD)

​Exposure to
and Family Violence

Incarceration of
a Parent or

​Interrupted School Attendance 
and Suspension

​Out-of-Home Care

Childhood Sexual Abuse

Early Exposure to Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse

Stolen Generations 
and Descendants

Acquired Brain 



​Low Socio-Economic 



COVID-19 Risks and
Impacts for Prisoners

Impacts of Imprisonment and Remand in Custody 

Child Abuse
and Neglect


Significance of Sorry Business and Funeral Attendance

Published Judgments Citing the Bugmy Bar Book

The Bugmy Bar Book has been cited in numerous judgments of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, NSW Supreme Court, ACT Supreme Court and NSW District Court, as well as in judgments from the Queensland District Court and ACT Magistrates Court. 

Click here to view a Summary of Published Judgments Referring to the Bugmy Bar Book (new)

Chapter Review Process

Each chapter is comprised of extracts from major reports and leading academic research. The extracts are compiled by a researcher under the supervision of a senior legal academic or legal practitioner from, or nominated by, the Committee. The chapter is then assigned to an expert or experts in the relevant field for review to ensure accuracy, comprehensiveness and reliability of the research cited with respect to the general body of research in the field. Once that review is completed, the chapters are then reviewed and approved by at least two members of an independent advisory panel. 

All chapters are reviewed by at least one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander member of our independent advisory panel. Chapters which relate specifically to the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are also researched and reviewed by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander researchers, supervisors, Committee members and experts.


Guidance on how the chapters may be used and presented can be found in the following papers:  

Click here to view other relevant speeches, papers and articles.

A Note for Practitioners

The research extracted in the chapters has been drawn from major reports and leading research. Each chapter has been reviewed by a committee of senior lawyers and academics, and has also been reviewed by an expert in the field to ensure the research is reliable, credible and reflects the general body of research available for the topic. 

Not all of the research which is contained in the chapters may be relevant to your client. We suggest that it would be helpful for the presentation of your case to identify to the court the paragraphs of the chapter which are relevant to your case. There may also be further research available which is not included in the chapter and is relevant to your client’s particular experience or condition.  

Most of the chapters include extracts from the research relating to treatment and healing. The research contained in relation to treatment and healing does not attempt to prescribe or recommend what is required for any individual. This will of course be determined by factors such as the individual’s personal experience or condition, the advice of any relevant experts, health providers or other support persons and the availability of treatment and opportunities to recover and heal. 


The Bugmy Bar Book is produced by the Bugmy Bar Book Project Committee in consultation with experts in each area of research and under the guidance of a multi-disciplinary, independent advisory panel.

The Committee is comprised of representatives from the Public Defenders, the private profession, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), Legal Aid NSW, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW), the District Court of NSW, the Judicial Commission of NSW, University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney and the Australian National University.

Click here for a full list of contributors to the project.

Enquiries and Feedback

Feedback, suggestions or enquiries may be emailed to the Committee via

Subscribe to Mailing List

To be notified of updates to the Bugmy Bar Book and upcoming training events, sign up to our mailing list (external link).

Follow the Bugmy Bar Book on LinkedIn

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Research Papers

Incarceration in Australia since 1967: Trends in the Over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (September 2022) 

Expert Reports

Significance of Culture to Wellbeing, Healing and Rehabilitation (Edwige and Gray, 2021)

Upcoming Training & Development

Click here to view and register for upcoming presentations, training and CPD events.

New Article: Law Society Journal

An article by Legal and Program Managers, Lauren Stefanou and Crystal Triggs, has been published in the August issue of LSJ (online): link.

COVID-19 Insert

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new chapter has been published: COVID-19 Risks and Impacts for Prisoners  
(updated 14.2.2022)

This chapter will be regularly updated and is subject to a fast-track review process. 

For case summaries on COVID-19 issues please go to the NSW Public Defenders web page COVID-19 Resources for Criminal Lawyers .  

Legal Aid NSW Bugmy Bar Book Webinar

Click here to view the Legal Aid NSW Bugmy Bar Book Q&A recorded webinar featuring Judge Sophia Beckett, Peter McGrath SC, Professor Thalia Anthony, Jeremy Styles,  Rebecca McMahon and Richard Wilson SC (Committee Co-Chairs), and hosted by Emma Manea.

The webinar is a Q&A session with BBB Committee members exploring what the Bugmy Bar Book is, how the chapters have been developed and used at Court, and ultimately how practitioners can best use these resources to advocate for their clients.

Judicial Commission Article on the Bugmy Bar Book

The June issue of the Judicial Officers' Bulletin published by the Judicial Commission of NSW features an article by Nicholas Cowdery AO QC, Professor Jill Hunter and Rebecca McMahon. The article explores the promotion of justice outcomes in sentencing courts through reliance on evidence-based research derived from major reports and leading academics with a focus on the new online research-focused resource, the Bugmy Bar Book. A judicial note by her Honour Judge Beckett complements the article. Click here to download.