Australian Institute of Criminology

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A community approach to crime prevention

Media Release

05 August 1999

The Centre for Adolescent Heath at the University of Melbourne is conducting a large study for the Victorian government to measure a series of factors that predict the danger of adolescents becoming involved in crime. This work, undertaken by Dr John Toumbourou, is based on a United States community prevention program which has been in operation since 1994 and has now been adopted in over 400 communities in the US and was recently taken up in the UK and the Netherlands.

"Communities that Care" (CTC) is a comprehensive community-based prevention strategy based on research on predictors of health and behaviour problems. CTC assists local groups to establish intervention strategies and provides training and support to ensure the implementation of the program.

Preliminary studies have been carried out in Victoria, and a consortium including the Women's and Children's Health Care Network and the Rotary Club of Melbourne plans to trial the CTC strategy in Victoria in early 2000.

Dr Toumbourou said "research is clearly linking the major causes of youth crime and drug abuse to the experience young people have growing up in their families, schools, peer groups and communities. The CTC approach brings local communities together to monitor conditions and adjust services to maximise the chances for healthy youth development. In US communities the CTC program has led to a big increase in prevention spending which we dearly need in Australia if we are to seriously tackle problems of crime, violence and drug abuse".

Dr Adam Graycar, Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology said on release of the paper, Implementing Communities that Care in Australia: A Community Mobilisation Approach to Crime Prevention in Canberra yesterday "The identification of factors that influence youth involvement in crime will allow a greater focus on prevention strategies rather than concentrating resources on policing and punishment". The paper is No. 122 in the series Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice.