The year in review
This has been a productive year with the Criminology Research Council (CRC) performing well and successfully continuing to support the field of criminological research.
The CRC website has been redeveloped with a new corporate image and the capability to search published reports. All final reports from grants completed over the past 30 years are now available on the website.
There were four new research grants approved during the year, consisting of an interesting range of research relevant to current and future public policy issues.
The CRC continued to support the existing research grants and consultancies. Four research grants were completed and provided final reports. These projects were:
- The impact of penalty severity on juvenile recidivism.
- Further investigation of the relationship between survey victimisation and perceptions of criminality: analysis of the 2005 Personal Safety Survey.
- Abuse of female partners in Bowen Basin region of Central Queensland.
- Assessing the impact of 'available street time' and mortality on estimates of recidivism.
One new consultancy on correctional offender treatment programs was approved and is due for completion in early 2009–10.
There have been two new council members appointed throughout the year—Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Member for the Australian Government and Ms Ingrid Haythorpe, Member for South Australia.
I would like to thank council members for their hard work throughout the year and look forward to working with the members again as Chair in the next 12 months.
I would like to express my appreciation to the staff of the Australian Institute of Criminology for their support and to the CRC Assessment Panel Members—Professor Roderic Broadhurst and Professor Jenny Fleming. I would particularly like to thank Professor Fleming for her extended contribution as an Assessment Panel Member.
Criminology Research Council
The Criminology Research Council (CRC) was established by the Criminology Research Act 1971 and is an integral part of a state, territory and Australian Government funded approach to research on criminological issues in Australia today.
The principal objectives of the CRC are to support research which is relevant to current and future public policy issues, foster the undertaking of quality criminological research and ensure that CRC supported research is disseminated effectively.
The CRC provides a forum for attorneys-general around Australia and their representatives to assess needs in the field of criminological research and to fund specific research projects in universities, government agencies and elsewhere. The fund receives contributions every year from the Australian Government and state and territory governments.
Research funded by the council addresses the National Research Priorities in a number of ways. Protecting Australia from crime and strengthening the social and economic fabric under Priority Areas 2 and 4 are of particular relevance. Research has improved the evidence base for policy and practice, as well as public awareness of major types of offending, victimisation risk factors and effective measures to reduce and prevent crime.
The council's funds may be disseminated through the research grants program, as well as a consultancy program. For its consultancies, the council identifies topics of policy importance for research and then develops proposals which are publicly advertised. These consultancies are designed to meet highly specific objectives to which the council has accorded priority. Such research, for example, could be designed to contribute to, or complement, the work of national initiatives by other organisations or state/territory initiatives which have clear policy or best practice implications for other governments within Australia.
Through the library, the CRC funded research reports are listed on Libraries Australia and also on CINCH—the Australian criminology database—which is publicly available online. With hundreds of libraries Australia-wide participating in Libraries Australia, CRC reports receive wide coverage. Details of CRC funded projects, and the reports submitted in fulfilment of the projects, are posted on the CRC's website.
Under grant funding arrangements, the grantees are able to distribute their final report themselves. Many researchers choose to publish in the form of books and journal articles, making them readily available to the broader community. They also distribute copies to appropriate government departments and agencies. Grantees also provide a draft paper which may be produced for publication in the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice series or, where appropriate, in the Research and public policy series.
The CRC was established under s. 34 of the Criminology Research Act 1971 as a body corporate. The functions of the CRC, as stated in s. 40 of the Act, are:
to control and administer the Fund in accordance with Part IV and, for that purpose, to examine, and determine the relative importance and urgency of, projects for which the expenditure of moneys from the Fund may be authorised.
The principal objectives of the CRC are to support research which is relevant to current and future public policy issues, foster the undertaking of quality criminological research and ensure CRC supported criminological research is disseminated effectively.
The CRC has one outcome: criminological research which informs the Australian Government and states and territories.
This is achieved by:
- consulting with Australian, state and territory governments to determine research priorities
- providing monies to facilitate the conduct of, or otherwise supporting, impartial and policy relevant research
- keeping key stakeholders informed of council activities
- working cooperatively with Australian, state and territory government agencies and other organisations
- regularly consulting with the Australian criminal justice community as to the activities and directions of the council
- actively disseminating research findings to policymakers, practitioners and the general public both in Australia and internationally.
The council does not employ administrative staff members, but provides a fee to the AIC to provide secretariat and administrative services for the council. These include the provision of internal auditing of the council's activities as well as participation in the AIC's internal governance structure which is designed to ensure compliance with statutory and other external requirements aimed at achieving best practice in administrative and financial management. The AIC advises the council in relation to the need for criminological research as required under the Act.
The council consists of nine members who represent the Australian Government and state/territory governments. This composition ensures that areas targeted for research funding reflect both national and state/territory priorities.
The Australian Government representative is appointed by the Attorney-General; state/territory representatives are appointed by the Attorney-General on the nomination of the responsible state or territory minister.
The council meets three times a year and broadly dedicates the meetings to the following issues:
- March/April—establish council strategies and priorities for the forthcoming year
- July/August—target specific areas for consultancies and strategic development
- November—allocate general grants.
Members and meetings are identified in the appendix.
The council funds a research fellow, who is located within the AIC, and undertakes research at the direction of the council. Dr Lorana Bartels was appointed to the position for a three year period and commenced duty on 17 September 2007 on a part-time basis.
Dr Bartels produced the following reviews, reports and papers for the council, in addition to assisting in the development of the council's research activities:
- a report and summary issues paper on the challenges of mainstreaming specialty courts
- two scoping papers on sex offenders
- a report on the status of laws on outlaw motorcycle gangs in Australia.
In addition, Dr Bartels participated in the Justice Mental Health Working Group, undertook research on confiscation of proceeds of crime and violent offending by Indigenous women and organised a roundtable on the challenges of mainstreaming specialty courts.
The CRC's sole output is:
To support research which is relevant to current and future public policy issues, foster the undertaking of quality criminological research and ensure that CRC supported research is disseminated effectively.
For consultancies, the council identifies topics of policy importance for research and then develops proposals which are publicly advertised. These consultancies are designed to meet highly specific objectives to which the council has accorded priority. Such research, for example, could be designed to contribute to, or complement, the work of national initiatives by other organisations, or state/territory initiatives which have clear policy or best practice implications for other governments within Australia.
The Guidelines for grants, issued by the council for applicants, include the following criteria adopted by the council in consideration of applications:
- public policy relevance
- the extent to which the proposed research will have practical application and contribute to the understanding, prevention or correction of criminal behaviour
- the likelihood of the proposed research making a substantial and original contribution to criminological knowledge
- the cost effectiveness of the research
- the soundness of the design and methodology and the feasibility of the research
- the competence of the applicants(s) or principal investigators(s) to undertake the proposed research
- ethics committee approval, where appropriate
- availability of data, where required
- the extent of funding or in-kind support obtained from relevant agencies.
Criminology Research Fund
In the 2008–09 Portfolio Budget Statement, the total Australian Government appropriation for the CRC was $323,000. The appropriation to the CRC was to meet administered costs for the single government outcome.
Contributions to the Criminology Research Fund by the participating governments for the 2008–09 financial year totalled $187,000. Each state and territory made contributions on a pro-rata population basis as shown in the table below.
|Australian Capital Territory||$3,059|
|New South Wales||$62,130|
The table below is a summary of the CRC income and expenditure for 2008–09.
A panel comprising two senior criminologists, selected by the council from recommendations by the President of ANZSOC, considers applications for general grants. The panel this year comprised Professor Jenny Fleming and Professor Roderick Broadhurst. Panel members are required to assess all applications for research funding submitted to council independently of each other and must complete an assessment sheet for each application. Their assessments are discussed at a meeting held with the academic adviser to the council who submits final recommendations to the CRC for consideration at its November meeting.Report on performance
New projects for 2008–09
CRC 10/08–09: Oral language competence and interpersonal violence: exploring links in incarcerated young males
Dr Pamela Snow and Professor Martine Powell, Monash University
This project will build on prior research conducted by the principal investigators, who have shown that unidentified oral language deficits are present in over 50 percent of a community sample of male youth offenders. Such deficits include difficulties using and understanding everyday spoken language and may be undetected/misinterpreted by the communication partner. In this study, the prevalence of such deficits will be examined in an incarcerated sample (n=100), and links to violent offending (the most severe form of disrupted interpersonal behaviour) will be examined. Findings will inform both theory and practice in offender treatment programs, where verbally-mediated interventions are common.
CRC 26/08–09: Developing successful diversionary schemes for youth from remote Aboriginal communities
Dr Kate Senior, Dr Richard Chenhall, Mr William Ivory and Dr Tricia Nagel, Menzies School of Health Research
This study will investigate youth gangs in a remote NT Indigenous community. Diversionary schemes for Indigenous youth need to be based on evidence of gang membership's negative effects (substance misuse, crime and violence) and positive effects (high self esteem, low rates of self harm and suicide). This three year longitudinal project, utilising mixed method methodologies, will aid an in-depth understanding of youth gang membership and more broadly, the aspirations and life goals of the youth involved. In close association with an Indigenous-run diversion project, the most appropriate diversionary activities for Indigenous youth will be investigated.
CRC 38/08–09: Sudanese refugees' experiences with the Queensland criminal justice system
Dr Garry Coventry, Dr Glenn Dawes, Dr Stephen Moston and Dr Darren Palmer, James Cook University
This study consists of an 18 month longitudinal study which will focus on how Sudanese refugees interact with the Queensland criminal justice system. The study is original because it employs a multi-methodological approach in gaining the perceptions of Sudanese people who are either the victims or perpetrators of crime. Other data sources include examination of key police databases, interviews with police and support agencies and a discourse analysis of media reportage about Sudanese integration in the state. Another potential significant outcome of the research relates to the development of a streamlined procedure for measuring race-related crime.
CRC 42/08–09: ID scanners in the night-time economy: social sorting or social order?
Dr Darren Palmer, Dr Peter Miller and Dr Ian Warren, Deakin University
The project investigates the introduction of identity scanners in 'high risk' entertainment venues in Geelong (Vic) as part of an attempt to enhance community safety. Recently, the inner-city area of Geelong has been transformed into a significant night-time economy. However, such developments come with potential harms, such as increases in crime and antisocial behaviour. Networked identity scanners are a unique innovation introduced to address these issues. The project documents what has been done, why and with what impact and potential (or actual) harms, to serve as a model for future policy and program development.
Continuing projects for 2008–09
CRC 04/06–07: Jury sentencing survey
Professor Kate Warner, Dr Julia Davis, Dr Maggie Walter, Dr Rebecca Bradfield, University of Tasmania
The CRC made a grant of $174,050 for this project.
CRC 15/07–08: The use and impact of diversionary processes for reducing Indigenous over-representation
Dr Troy Allard, Associate Professor Anna Stewart and Dr Hennessey Hayes, Griffith University
The CRC made a grant of $36,707 for this project.
CRC 19/07–08: Crime in neighbourhoods: individuals and families in context
Dr Tara McGee, Dr Rebecca Wickes, Professor Jake Najman and Dr William Bor, Queensland University of Technology
The CRC made a grant of $77,116 for this project.
CRC 24/07–08: Analysis of supervision skills of juvenile justice workers
Associate Professor Chris Trotter and Professor Gill McIvor, Monash University
The CRC made a grant of $154,105 for this project.
CRC 05/07–08: Improving jury understanding and use of DNA evidence
Associate Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty and Dr Lindsay Hewson, University of New South Wales
The CRC made a grant of $108,760 for this project.
Correctional offender treatments programs: the 2008 national picture
Ms Karen Heseltine, Associate Professor Andrew Day and Professor Rick Sarre, ForenPsych Pty Ltd
The CRC funded this consultancy for $87,560.
This study examines changes to correctional rehabilitation in Australian correctional services over the past four years. The research will build on the results of a previous CRC study into offender rehabilitation programs, adding new and better quality data to this report. The study will describe the extent and current nature of adult offender treatment programs in correctional services throughout Australia, identifying those that have been shown to work; evaluate programs to determine alignment with best practice as defined by the scientific literature and the evidence base; determine the nature and extent of changes in correctional programming since 2004; and describe likely future developments in, and possible impediments to, program implementation from the perspective of correctional managers. Recommendations will be made for policy development that will provide a more systematic and rigorous evidence base for correctional programming.
Reports of completed research
Summaries of the four research projects completed in 2008–09 are provided below.
CRC 02/04–05: The impact of penalty severity on juvenile recidivism
Dr Don Weatherburn, Ms Sumitra Vignaendra and Mr Andrew McGrath, New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
The CRC made a grant of $340,686.50 for this project.
It is widely assumed that placing offenders (juvenile or adult) in custody acts as a deterrent to further offending. Studies of deterrence in the United States and elsewhere provide little support for this assumption, but comparable studies in Australia are rare. This study was designed to see whether juvenile offenders who receive a detention sentence are less likely to reoffend, controlling for other factors, than juvenile offenders given some other form of sentence. Two groups of offenders (152 given a detention sentence, 243 given a non-custodial sentence) were interviewed at length about matters including their family life, school performance, association with delinquent peers and substance abuse. They were followed up to determine what proportion in each group was reconvicted of a further offence. Cox regression was used to model time to reconviction. The study found no significant association between the type of penalty imposed and time to reconviction.
CRC 12/06–07: Further investigation of the relationship between survey victimisation and perceptions of criminality: analysis of the 2005 Personal Safety Survey
Dr Joe Clare and Mr Frank Morgan, University of Western Australia
The CRC made a grant of $15,801 for this project.
The addition of a question to recent victimisation surveys has revealed that victims do not always consider the experiences they describe to be crimes. Approximately 44 percent of assault victims involving male perpetrators that occurred within the five years preceding data collection for the 2005 Personal Safety Survey perceived their experiences as crimes. Following research investigating the relationship between survey victimisation and reporting to police, logistic regression modelling was used to examine the relationship between perceived crime and:
- victim characteristics
- the victim's relationship with the offender
- the seriousness of the incident.
In addition to analysing them in aggregation, separate models were produced for male and female assault victims. Overall, the models displayed good predictive capacity and important differences were observed for the separate male and female models. In addition to the traditional dark figure of crime, correlation analysis revealed a subsection of victimisation that was reported to police, despite the victims themselves not considering the incidents to be crimes. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
CRC 13/06–07: Abuse of female partners in Bowen Basin region of Central Queensland
Ms Heather Nancarrow, Associate Professor Stewart Lockie and Dr Sanjay Sharma, Central Queensland University
The CRC made a grant of $29,970 for this project.
This research arises from a widespread belief that women in mining communities are at greater risk of intimate partner abuse. This belief is related to perceived characteristics of mining communities, such as the effects of shift work and commuting patterns on family life, patriarchal culture and excessive drinking. To test the veracity of this belief, a computer assisted telephone interview survey of 532 women was conducted in the Bowen Basin region of Central Queensland, including the region's largest coastal city, Mackay. The study sought to ascertain the prevalence and nature of male-to-female intimate partner abuse and to explore the relationship between intimate partner abuse and the mining industry, its impacts on women's health and implications for interventions. The results suggest that women's experiences of most forms of abuse were not associated with mining culture. The study did find an association between mining culture and socio-psychological abuse, although this must be seen in the context of other influences, including patriarchal sex role stereotypes and consumption of alcohol and cannabis. Women who experienced any form of abuse were more likely to suffer depression and, for most forms of abuse, were more likely to suffer severe psychological symptoms than those who did not experience such abuse.
CRC 15/06–07: Assessing the impact of 'available street time' and mortality on estimates of recidivism
Ms Anna Ferrante, Mr Max Maller and Ms Nini Loh, University of Western Australia
The CRC made a grant of $28,006 for this project.
This is a methodological study assessing the impact of two factors, available street time and mortality, on estimates of recidivism. Using survival analysis techniques to derive estimates of reoffending, the study compared adjusted and unadjusted rates and assessed how these vary for different offender populations and over different follow-up periods. In contrast to many previous studies, the study found that adjusting for time spent in custody and mortality makes little difference to the two year recidivism rates of large offender populations. However, for certain offender groups and over shorter follow-up periods, the underestimation of recidivism is more marked. The study concluded that current methods of estimating population-level recidivism rates are adequate and do not require wholesale recalibration to account for either factor.
Freedom of information
This statement is provided in accordance with s. 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982. It refers to the structure of the CRC and the categories of documents it holds, with information as to how access can be made.
Categories of documents
- internal papers and records, including working drafts, statistical records, copies of facsimiles, interagency and general correspondence, and policy documents and reports (including recommendations and decisions)
- briefing papers and submissions prepared for the Attorney-General, ministerial correspondence and replies to parliamentary questions
- scoping papers, records of consultations, statistical data holdings and publications
- finance, establishment, personnel, recruitment, staff development, office services and funded research and consultancy files.
Requests during 2008–09
The council received no requests for information under the provisions of the Act during the year ending 30 June 2009.
Requests can be made in writing to the General Manager, Corporate Services, Australian Institute of Criminology, GPO Box 2944, Canberra ACT 2601.Appendix
|Jurisdiction||Member and deputy||Appointed|
|Australian Capital Territory||
Deputy: Mr Stephen Goggs
Member: Ms Elizabeth Kelly
Deputy: Sarah Chidgey
|New South Wales||
Member: Mr Laurie Glanfield (Chair)
Deputy: Mr Brendan Thomas
Member: Mr Richard Coates
Deputy: Mr Allan Van Zyl
Member: Mr Terry Ryan
Member: Ms Ingrid Haythorpe
Member: Mr Norman Reaburn
Deputy: Mr Peter Maloney
Member: Ms Penny Armytage
Deputy : Dr Jonathan Spear
Member: Ms Cheryl Gwilliam
Dr Jonathan Spear attended the April CRC meeting as observer for Victoria this financial year.
There was a 93 percent attendance rate by Australian Government and state/territory representatives this financial year.
The meeting held on 17 July 2008 was held at the NT Department of Justice in Darwin. The meetings held on 20 November 2008 and 2 April 2009 were held at the AIC in Canberra.
At the meeting on 2 April 2009, Mr Laurie Glanfield AM was unanimously re-elected chair of the council. At this meeting, the CRC confirmed its decision to elect its representatives from South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria as members of the Board of Management of the AIC.Back to the top