On 26 November 2019, 13 projects were recognised at an award ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra.
Gold award winners
Women of Worth, Northern Territory
Women of Worth is a voluntary program that supports women integrating back into Northern Territory communities on release from prison. It provides support six months pre-release and 12 months post-release to women involved in the justice system, predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The program aims to empower women involved in the justice system to implement positive lifestyle changes. Women of Worth focuses on providing clients with strength-based case management support, learning opportunities to develop skills and capacity to reduce reoffending as well as practical assistance to re-engage with the community.
Since its inception in August 2015, the Women of Worth program has:
- supported 120 clients;
- provided 1,664 hours of individual case management;
- delivered education sessions to 107 women in Darwin Correctional Centre; and
- provided $16,192 worth of client brokerage to clients.
Women of Worth has more than halved recidivism rates for program participants. Correctional data show more than three-quarters of clients have successfully remained in the community after release from prison. The program has used evidence to shape a strength-based, client focused, inclusive and trauma-informed approach. It is flexible and responsive to the needs of its unique cohort of clients.
R4Respect is a unique youth-led violence prevention program in which young people challenge violence-supportive attitudes and promote respectful relationships among their peers. The aim is to prevent antisocial behaviour and violence, including violence in personal or intimate relationships. R4Respect features four pillars in which young people are program leaders and the agents of change:
- a unique peer-to-peer educational model;
- a social media strategy;
- community awareness activities; and
- law reform and advocacy.
The program members are young people from diverse cultural backgrounds and identities, aged 17 to 24 years.
R4Respect has reached over 2,000 young people online and over 5,000 face to face, spreading positive messages about respect and what crosses the line into harm. Its use of peer-to-peer education on respectful relationships is innovative and effective. An independent evaluation found it had a very positive impact on young people’s attitudes towards respect in relationships and gender equality.
Encounter Youth Hindley Street Program, South Australia
The Hindley Street Program responds weekly to the complex issues of alcohol-fuelled violence, drug offences, sexual assault, antisocial behaviour and community safety concerns among young people in the night-time entertainment district in Hindley Street, Adelaide. This program uses evidence-based situational and social crime prevention theories to reduce and prevent crime. Trained Encounter Youth volunteers patrol Hindley Street in teams of four every Saturday night between 11 pm and 5 am, providing responsible supervision on a peer-level to young people. Volunteers assess, refer, support and report patrons in their moment of need or vulnerability.
The program is targeted at 18 to 24 year olds who are at risk of being victims or perpetrators of violent or non-violent crime. It provides a zone of safety and support, with practical assistance to keep people safe at a time when they are vulnerable to becoming victims or perpetrators of crime. Among its various forms of support, the program provides an important service to isolated and intoxicated patrons who have become separated from friends and are at particular risk of becoming victims.
The program has been running for more than eight years and has demonstrated its success through independent evaluation. Police, the ambulance service and the city council also attest to its role in preventing alcohol-related physical and sexual assault.
Safe at Home Program, Tasmania
Safe at Home is Tasmania’s integrated criminal justice response to family violence, underpinned by the state’s Family Violence Act (2004). It involves a range of services working together to address the safety needs of victims and children, and hold perpetrators accountable. It uses a pro-arrest, pro-prosecution policy to address family violence, complemented by a human services approach to support recovery and change. Safe at Home was implemented in 2004, making Tasmania one of the first jurisdictions in Australia to develop an integrated whole-of-government response to family violence.
The objectives of Safe at Home are to improve the safety and security of adult and child victims of family violence in the short and long term. It aims to ensure that offenders are held accountable for family violence as a crime, to change their offending behaviour, to reduce the incidence and severity of family violence in the longer term, and to minimise the negative impacts of contact with the criminal justice system on adult and child victims.
Reviews of Safe at Home have shown its effectiveness in improving safety for victims of family violence, increasing public awareness and legal recognition of family violence as a crime, improving police responses to violence and facilitating information sharing between different agencies to manage risk and safety.
Silver award winner
Building Social Capital Hubs, Queensland
The Building Social Capital Hubs project is a unique partnership between the local council and the Logan and Beenleigh offices of Queensland Corrective Services Probation and Parole. It takes a developmental crime prevention approach, focused on reducing reoffending among Probation and Parole clients. The project commenced in June 2017 and is delivered in an expo-style format in community settings, bringing together a range of pro-social support services including employment, financial and health services to assist attendees.
The well-attended hubs are a one stop shop, bringing the support services available in Logan to the individuals most in need. The long-term goal of this project is to reduce the likelihood of at-risk individuals engaging in violence or crime by addressing underlying factors that influence their decision to offend. Stable housing, health, education and employment have been identified as protective factors that decrease the likelihood of a person engaging in crime or being a victim of crime.
Bronze award winners
Doors Wide Open Inc, Western Australia
Doors Wide Open is an established community-based centre that provides support, advocacy and information to methamphetamine and other drug users and their family and friends. Doors Wide Open has significant experience in mentoring drug users at risk of being incarcerated. The centre has created positive connections with the Bunbury Regional Prison, resulting in increasing numbers of former prisoners visiting the centre upon release and thereafter.
Doors Wide Open provided a mentor with lived experience to drug users at risk of being incarcerated. Peer mentors accompany mentees to help them identify and develop the inherent strengths needed to engage in economically and socially normative activities. The centre also connects users with doctors, mental health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, housing services and employment agencies. The initiative builds a peer-to-peer mentoring program that aims to preventing offending and reduce recidivism, leading to a safer community.
Ready Steady Together Partnership, Victoria
The Ready Steady Together Partnership has developed a primary prevention program to address family violence in the Wyndham City area of Melbourne by improving access to information and support for expecting and new parents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The program aims to address risk factors for family violence through the use of trained and paid bi-cultural facilitators who deliver culturally appropriate and respectful parenting education. Relationships established through the program increase the capacity and cultural inclusiveness of the local family support service system to better support those at risk of family violence, and create employment and training pathways for local women from the identified communities.
The project has given new and expecting parents improved support and access to information, along with a better understanding of the ways in which cultural values influence notions of parenthood, gender, relationships and the health and wellbeing of families. It has led to a stronger collaboration between health, family and children’s services in Wyndham, which can now help families to access a broad range of culturally appropriate support.
STREAT (Main Course program), Victoria
STREAT is an integrated hospitality-based social enterprise working directly with Victoria’s most marginalised young people—16 to 24 year olds who need a hand to find and retain work. STREAT operates six cafes, a bakery, catering and events businesses and a coffee roastery. Through its Main Course program, STREAT provides vocational training, work experience in real businesses, along with a group program about work readiness. The Youth Programs team provides significant individual wrap-around support and specialist referral. It supports disadvantaged youth with various types of education, employment and legal advice as well as other services.
Since its inception, the Main Course program has helped hundreds of vulnerable young people, providing tens of thousands of hours of training and support. It has achieved high levels of retention and markedly reduced unemployment among participants.
Gold award winner
First Drinks: First Impressions. Harm Reduction Through Police Engagement, Queensland
The First Drinks project started in March 2017 and was the world’s first randomised controlled trial of police and researcher led engagement with patrons entering the night-time entertainment district of Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland. The project’s aim was to test whether engaging with patrons could increase police legitimacy and reduce assaults.
On certain Friday and Saturday nights between March and September 2017, either police officers or researchers breathalysed 1,421 participants in the Surfer’s Paradise Safe Night Precinct and gave them feedback on their intoxication levels. The number of assaults and good order offences for these nights were compared with those of other nights.
The project was assessed by Griffith University researchers, who found that having police engage with patrons at the beginning of the night reduced assault rates by 58 percent. This engagement also made people 28 percent more likely to interact with the police before trouble began later in the night.
Silver award winners
Hume Crime Investigation Unit Crime Reduction Team (Burglary Crew), Victoria – Silver Award winner
In December 2017, burglary offences in the Hume Police Service Area were at a five-year high and continuing to increase. Through innovative thinking, the team developed new strategies, enhanced internal relationships and forged strong community bonds to target and reduce burglaries in the Hume area. The multifaceted approach included targeting recidivism through proactive investigations, daily triaging of burglary incidents and engagement with victims, recidivist offenders and the community.
These strategies proved successful, resulting in a 42 percent reduction in residential burglaries. This equated to 680 fewer burglaries being committed in 2018 compared to 2017.
Bronze award winners
Project CASM—Community Against Substance Abuse, Queensland
Project CASM was developed by the Queensland Police Service and the Brisbane City Child Protection and Investigation Unit. It seeks to protect and divert young people from volatile substance misuse in Brisbane City. This involves retailer engagement and education, street outreach with at-risk youth, police upskilling, and family support.
A short-term evaluation demonstrated that, collectively, the retailer engagement, street outreach and officer upskilling reduced the number of volatile substance misuse incidents in Brisbane while increasing retailer understanding and police skills.
Intensive Referral of Domestic Violence Respondents, Queensland
The project involves following up with domestic violence respondents following police attendance to a call for service or at court before sentencing. Specially assigned police officers in the Sunshine Coast District’s Vulnerable Persons Unit contact respondents to ascertain their suitability for referral to a support service and/or a police-led intervention aiming to prevent further domestic violence.
The project has been independently evaluated by researchers with the Queensland Police Service’s Intelligence and Covert Services Command using a quasiexperimental design. The evaluation found a decrease in domestic and family violence re-occurrences compared with a control district which continued its ‘business as usual’ referrals.
Assault Free Zone, Queensland
The Assault Free Zone was launched in October 2017 in the Mackay district of North Queensland with the goal of using a simple but prominent message to promote the idea that assaults will not be tolerated. Media such as signs, bags, water bottles and wristbands were used to spread the distinctive message throughout the community.
The project has led to a reduction in assaults in the Mackay district, as well as in a neighbouring area where the approach has also been adopted. The simple and cost-effective strategy has the potential to be easily rolled out in other areas.