Australian Institute of Criminology

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Agency overview

Having successfully completed 40 years of operations in 2012–13, the AIC has continued to inform the legislative and policy agendas of governments, and has shaped the practices of law enforcement agencies, court systems and corrective services. The AIC has also improved the work of agencies and entities across the private sector by providing through advice around crime prevention and business practice.

2012–13 highlights

AIC staff have continued to design, conduct and publish high-quality research and continue to monitor key crime types and justice system issues, despite the difficult budget environment faced by all government agencies.

The AIC has also met a raft of accountability and compliance challenges in its second year after transitioning to the FMA Act and Public Service Act 1999. This required a small increase in administrative staff to manage the additional workload and to enable the AIC to achieve compliance.

Further, 2012–13 has seen a reduction in staff numbers, although a broadening of the research capacity has been enabled through partnered research, consultant services and events. The AIC continues to work regularly in partnership with other government and academic research agencies to undertake research projects. It also continues to manage three grants programs—the CRG program, NDLERF and the ACVPA. The CRG and NDLERF programs both provide funding on a competitive basis for the conduct of primary research projects. Thus, the AIC is involved not only in undertaking research of significance but in promoting the undertaking of quality research in the Australian academic sector more broadly.

The global shift to primarily digital formats in publication and communications, as opposed to hardcopy form, has also presented significant challenges, with the majority of AIC publications now produced in electronic formats only.

The AIC was one of the first agencies within the Australian Government to embrace social media and Web 2.0, due to its affiliation with research and universities and its core role in disseminating evidence-based criminological research. This has added to the Institute’s ‘reach’ (in Australia and internationally) in the crime and criminal justice sector, the broader health, anti-violence and social welfare sectors, academia and more broadly to professional and advocacy groups, and to a variety of commercial and business sectors interested in preventing crime targeted at their businesses.

Highlight 3 Key performance indicators

  • 100 percent of Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice papers and Research and Public Policy series papers are peer reviewed. This ensures the quality of the research outputs by the AIC.
  • The volume of research and its appropriateness as agreed with the Minister.
  • AGD and key stakeholders are satisfied with the AIC’s responsiveness to requests for assistance in priority areas.
  • Research activities under the national research priorities are reported in the annual report.
  • Quantity of publications, roundtables and conferences as agreed by the Minister.
  • CRG program funds are used to support research that is relevant to current and future public policy issues and that produces research reports of value to government and other stakeholders.
  • All publications are placed on the AIC’s website within 24 hours of release and 90 percent of routine alerting to subscribers and listservs is complete within two days of publication release.
  • Implementation of Gov 2.0 measures.
Table 1 AIC submissions to Parliament and government
2012–13 financial year (1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013)
Date Title Submission/hearing
August 2012 Australia. Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012 Submission
September 2012 Australia. Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Human Rights Sub-Committee. Inquiry into Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking Submission
October 2012 Australia. Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. Inquiry into Cyber-Safety for Senior Australians Hearing
November 2012 Australia. Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Human Rights Sub-Committee. Inquiry into Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking Hearing
November 2012 Australia. Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Human Rights Sub-Committee. Inquiry into Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking Submission
December 2012 Australia. Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Human Rights Sub-Committee. Inquiry into Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking Response to questions on notice
December 2012 Australia. Additional submission in respect of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Discussion Paper Connecting With Confidence: Optimising Australia’s Digital Future 2011 Submission
On 12 Dec 2012 the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy invited the AIC to provide additional input into the development of the Digital White Paper

Minister, Portfolio and Director

The Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Justice, the Hon Jason Clare MP, is responsible for the AIC. The AIC resides within the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

Dr Adam Tomison has been the AIC Director since July 2009; since 1 July 2011 he has also been the Chief Executive of the AIC.

Outcome and program objective 2012–13

Within the purview of the Criminology Research Act 1971, the AIC’s objective is to ensure that government and the wider community is informed by policy-relevant research, as well as generating a crime and justice evidence base and national knowledge centre.

The AIC’s single outcome, as stated in the 2012–13 Portfolio Budget Statement is:

Outcome 1: Inform crime and justice policy and practice in Australia by undertaking, funding and disseminating policy-relevant research of national significance; and through the generation of a crime and justice evidence base and national knowledge centre.

This outcome is achieved through the conduct of research that is relevant to crime and justice policy and practice. As a national knowledge centre, the AIC disseminates its own research, as well as other national and international information relevant to crime and justice. The AIC also funds criminological research through the CRG program. A secondary objective is to maintain a comprehensive and focused national criminological research collection and to ensure that the AIC’s researchers and stakeholders have access to the most up-to-date and relevant information.

Outcomes are achieved by:

  • undertaking impartial and contemporary policy-relevant research;
  • keeping the Minister fully informed of the AIC’s outcomes and publications;
  • working cooperatively with the AGD, portfolio agencies, state and territory criminal justice agencies and other stakeholders;
  • producing and disseminating crime and justice research and other information to policymakers, practitioners, the academic community and the general public across Australia and internationally;
  • maintaining and producing research information of value to key stakeholders from ongoing monitoring programs and other research data collections;
  • determining priorities and making grants under the CRG program in consultation with Australian governments; and
  • providing moneys to facilitate the conduct of, or otherwise supporting, impartial and policy-relevant research.

The AIC program has provided the following deliverables:

  • undertaking impartial and policy-relevant research of the highest standard on crime and criminal justice;
  • working cooperatively with AGD, portfolio and other federal agencies, and state and territory government agencies in the AIC’s role as the Australian Government’s national research centre on crime and justice;
  • administering an effective and efficient annual grants program that results in policy-relevant research; and
  • actively disseminating research findings to policymakers, practitioners and the general public across Australia and internationally in a timely manner.

Highlight 4 AIC 40th anniversary

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The AIC is currently passing a series of 40th anniversary milestones.

On 1 February 1973, Judge J H Muirhead (then of the Adelaide Local and District Criminal Court) became Acting Director. On 16 October 1973, an official opening ceremony for the AIC was held at the National Library Theatrette.

The then Attorney-General, Senator Lionel Murphy QC, stated:

The Institute faces a difficult and responsible task and a challenging one. Present and future generations of Australians have much to gain from the success of its work. It will require support and cooperation of governments, officials, academics and citizens generally.

Two generations later, the AIC is well-established as Australia’s national knowledge centre on crime and criminal justice and continues to produce high-quality criminological research, often in cooperation or partnership with justice agencies, law enforcement and academia.

From the very outset, the AIC also worked in the area of regional cooperation and capacity building in neighbouring countries, as well as building a strong presence at the United Nations, which is maintained today.

Research relevant to policy and practice

Research undertaken by the AIC informs policy and practice in the crime and criminal justice sectors through:

  • monitoring trends in crime and the criminal justice system;
  • building knowledge of offending and victimisation;
  • identifying emerging or changed criminal activity; and
  • building an evidence base for an effective criminal justice system and crime prevention.

The AIC designs and conducts projects, and funds research through the CRG program that investigate or highlight particular criminal justice issues of national or Australian Government interest. Although research topics and methodologies vary, the AIC’s emphasis is always on providing a policy-relevant evidence base.

While the AIC’s research is primarily funded by the Australian Government, individual projects may be funded by the Australian Government (or agencies), state and territory governments (or agencies) or a range of academic and non-government agencies.

The AIC receives significant in-kind support from state and territory governments for long-term monitoring programs and research projects. This is often in the form of access to, or provision of, data. The Australian state and territory governments, together with the Australian Government (who makes a contribution through the AIC’s core appropriation) also fund the CRG program each year.

National research priorities

The AIC contributes to the current National Research Priorities through National Research Priority Area no. 4—Safeguarding Australia and in particular, that priority’s fourth goal, Protecting Australia from Terrorism and Crime specified as:

[P]romoting a healthy and diverse research and development system that anticipates threats and supports core competencies in modern and rapid identification techniques.

The trafficking in persons and slavery, financial and cybercrime programs contribute to the priority’s second goal Understanding Our Region and the World.

The AIC also contributes to National Research Priority area no. 2—Promoting and Maintaining Good Health, through the Priority’s fourth goal—Strengthening Australia’s Social and Economic Fabric, to help families and individuals live healthy, productive and fulfilling lives, which fits with crime prevention and intervention research.

The National Research Priorities will be replaced in early 2013–14 with a set of five new Strategic Research Priorities. AIC research will fall mainly under the new priority Securing Australia’s Place in a Changing World. There are two key elements to this priority:

  • Improve cyber security for all Australians—AIC research identifies ways to improve cyber security for individuals, organisations, businesses, government and national infrastructure.
  • Manage the flow of goods, information, money and people across our national and international boundaries.

AIC research identifies risks and prevention strategies in areas including:

  • cyber security, international crime, and international and transnational legal and regulatory frameworks.

The AIC will also contribute to two other priorities:

  • Living in a Changing Environment—specifically in the area of Manage Risk and Capture Opportunities for Sustainable Natural and Human Systems; and
  • Promoting Population Health and Wellbeing in the areas of—Maximise Social and Economic Participation in Society and Improve the Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

AIC research has and will continue to identify strategies to maximise social and economic participation, particularly in relation to key life stages, intergenerational disparities and socioeconomic disadvantage.

Research program

The strategic priorities of the AIC Research program are to:

  • provide information on, and analysis of, the criminal justice system and the causes, control and prevention of crime;
  • develop innovative products and services, including consultancy, in the field of criminological research and information to better meet the needs of clients and stakeholders; and
  • anticipate the needs of major stakeholders by conducting research into emerging areas of crime, including maintaining the ability to respond quickly to the needs of government.

During 2013, the Research program was restructured into the following three teams:

Crime prevention and criminal justice responses

This team manages CP ASSIST as part of its focus on preventing crime and conducts the research in the following areas:

  • criminal justice system responses;
  • crime prevention;
  • vulnerable communities;
    • Indigenous justice;
    • youth justice; and
  • corrections.

Violence and other serious crime monitoring

This team enhances and promotes knowledge of Australia’s central crime issues, including:

  • homicide and other violence;
  • illicit drug use and alcohol-fuelled crime;
  • number and characteristics of people detained in custody; and
  • deaths in custody.

It is also responsible for the following critical areas:

  • criminal justice issues for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including countering violent extremism; and
  • research advice and support for the NDLERF program;

Transnational and organised crime

This team provides information on, and analyses the causes, extent, prevention and control of a range of transnational and organised criminal activity including:

  • economic crime, including fraud, money-laundering and identity crime;
  • cybercrime;
  • corruption;
  • trafficking in persons and slavery; and
  • environmental crime.

Research activities

Research activities within the AIC fall into two main categories:

  • national monitoring programs; and
  • crime and justice projects.

National monitoring programs

National monitoring programs are core research activities of the AIC. They involve the collection and analysis of specialised crime and criminal justice data not available elsewhere. Most monitoring programs release a biennial report analysing trends and characteristics revealed by the data. These reports are widely used to inform whole of government reporting on the crime and justice sector and to support policy initiatives across all levels of government.

National monitoring and reporting is currently undertaken in the areas of:

  • trafficking in persons;
  • deaths in custody;
  • fraud against the Commonwealth;
  • drug use and the socio-demographics of police detainees;
  • homicide; and
  • armed robbery.

Crime and justice research projects

Crime and justice projects are limited duration, major research analyses undertaken using a range of primary and secondary data sources. In 2012–13, research undertaken by the AIC included:

  • a feasibility study to measure the impact of environmental crime;
  • developing a tool for estimating the security staff required at large events;
  • developing indicators to measure identity crime at the national level;
  • estimating the short-term costs of imprisonment and community corrections in Victoria;
  • evaluating a preventing violence against women program in Victoria;
  • evaluating changes to community corrections orders in Victoria;
  • evaluating NAPCAN’s Growing Respect program;
  • examining police responses to dealing with intoxicated offenders;
  • evaluating the effectiveness of drug and alcohol programs for offenders;
  • evaluating the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 funding arrangements;
  • examining links between child exploitation material (CEM) and child contact offending;
  • examining the nature and impact of serious and organised investment;
  • examining the risks associated with cloud computing for small businesses;
  • exploring links between violent extremism and gang violence;
  • re-estimating the costs of crime in Australia; and
  • reviewing recent evidence associated with restorative justice.

Communications and Information Services

A key part of the AIC’s role as Australia’s knowledge centre on crime and justice, the AIC seeks to promote justice and reduce crime is the development of a world-standard research and information collection and to effectively disseminate policy-relevant research of national significance.

Communications

The Communications team ensures that new research and information is provided to AIC stakeholders, criminal justice practitioners and the general public. It also facilitates the communication, transfer and adoption of findings into policy and further research. This is achieved by publishing high-quality publications, such as the peer-reviewed Research and Public Policy series and Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice (see Appendix 1), as well as other research and policy-relevant materials. In addition, the Communications team develops and manages key dissemination platforms such as the AIC website, conferences and other events, as well as mainstream media and social media.

Information services

The AIC hosts a substantial collection of criminal justice and related materials. The collection is housed in the AIC’s JV Barry Library and has been made available online through the AIC website and via the CINCH electronic database to inform and assist in the development of evidence-based policy and programs.

The JV Barry Library also provides information and research support services to AIC researchers, academics, policymakers, practitioners and the general public. Its links, via a range of information service and library networks, connect AIC staff and stakeholders to a complete repository of specialist criminological resources in the most efficient manner.

Corporate services

Corporate services provide substantive functions to deliver AIC outcomes, as well as the more traditional corporate support services, as detailed in the following sections.

Financial management

The AIC’s financial services include:

  • internal and external financial reporting, budget development and management, and project management and reporting;
  • risk management and audit, including strategic risk identification and remediation, oversight of the outsourced internal audit activity, support to the Audit Committee and compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines;
  • procurement, contracts and legal, including implementation of legislative and compliance frameworks such as the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and insurance; and
  • coordinating, developing and streamlining new FMA Act requirements as they apply to the AIC.

Human resource management and administration

Human resource responsibilities at the AIC include:

  • strategic planning and management;
  • coordination of the outsourced payroll services provider;
  • the drafting of Director’s Instructions, and policies and procedures;
  • implementation of industrial legislative obligations;
  • negotiation of the agency agreement;
  • liaison with the Staff Consultative Committee;
  • monitoring of workplace health and safety issues;
  • recruitment;
  • the staff performance development scheme; and
  • general staff support.

Administrative activities include:

  • administration of CRG and NDLERF grants programs;
  • secretariat services provided to the Criminology Research Advisory Council, the ACVPA Board and NDLERF Board. From September 2011, the AIC has also provided the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology with secretarial support on a fee-for-service basis;
  • records and information management, including implementation of National Privacy Principles and compliance with Digital Transition policies;
  • management of intellectual property, responses to parliamentary questions and ministerial correspondence; and
  • general and essential support, including facilities and security management and travel administration.

Information and communications technology

The AIC runs a stable and secure information and communications technology (ICT) network in accordance with Australian Government information security requirements. The ICT team develops interactive datasets for publication and provides web and communications platforms. In addition to the AIC’s website, support and/or hosting are provided on a fee-for-service basis to other organisations, including NDLERF and Crime Stoppers Australia.

AIC key performance indicators

Table 2 KPI targets
Target Outcome
100 percent of Trends & Issues papers and Research and Public Policy papers are blind peer reviewed. This ensures the quality of the research outputs by the Institute Achieved
Reports produced for each of the monitoring programs are issued according to schedule (eg annually, biennially) Achieved
23 Peer reviewed Trends & Issues papers and Research in Public Policy papers published Exceeded
38 Other publications (including Research in Practice papers, Technical and Background papers, Brief, Journal articles, consultancy reports etc) Exceeded
At least 10 roundtables and other forums held Exceeded
>90% satisfaction of stakeholders with research (according to project mid-term and/or completion survey) Achieved
Lodgement of research datasets and codebook at the completion of projects Achieved
Unqualified audit on end-of-year Financial Statements Achieved
Operate within budget approved by Director Achieved
Implementation of Government 2.0 measures Achieved

Figure 1: AIC organisation chart

Figure 1  organisation chart