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Annual report 2007/08

Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2008
ISSN 1836-229X

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Crimnology Research Council Annual Report

The year in review

Laurie GlanfieldThis has been a productive year, with the Criminology Research Council performing well and continuing successfully to support the field of criminological research.

Four new research grants were approved during the year, consisting of an interesting range of research relevant to current and future public policy.

The CRC continued support for existing research grants and consultancies. Five research grants were completed and provided final reports. These were:

One consultancy, on Indigenous diversion, was completed and is currently in the process of publication as a Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice paper. Another consultancy, on criminological research and research ethics committees, was cancelled due to budgeting and scoping constraints.

Two new Council members were appointed, this year: Cheryl Gwilliam, Member for Western Australia, and Rebecca Parry, 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 Dr Russell Smith, the former academic adviser to the Council, and to the staff of the Australian Institute of Criminology for their support.

Laurie Glanfield
Chair Criminology Research Council

Agency overview

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 that 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 and 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 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 and increased 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 through a consultancy program. For its consultancies, the Council identifies topics of policy importance for research and then develops proposals, which are advertised publicly. 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 that have clear policy or best practice implications for other governments within Australia.

Through the JV Barry Library, the CRC-funded research reports are listed on Libraries Australia and also on CINCH, the Australian criminology database publicly available online. With hundreds of libraries throughout Australia 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 their work 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 AIC's Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice series or, where appropriate in the Research and public policy series.

Figure 1: Criminology Research Council procedures flowchart

Governance

Enabling legislation

The CRC was established under section 34 of the Criminology Research Act 1971 (the Act) as a body corporate. The functions of the CRC, as stated in section 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 authorized.

The principal objectives of the CRC are to support research that is relevant to current and future public policy issues, foster the undertaking of quality criminological research, and ensure that CRC-supported criminological research is disseminated effectively.

The CRC has one outcome: Criminological research which informs the Australian Government, states and territories.

This is achieved by:

The Council

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 internal auditing of the Council's activities and participation in the AIC's internal governance structure, 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, the states and the territories. 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 and territory representatives are appointed by the Attorney-General upon nomination by the responsible state or territory minister.

The Council meets three times a year and broadly dedicates the meetings to the following issues:

Members and meetings are shown in the Appendix.

The Council funds a research fellow, who is located at the AIC and undertakes research at the direction of the Council. Lorana Bartels, a doctoral candidate from the University of Tasmania, has been appointed to the position for a three-year period, which commenced on 17 September 2007.

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.

Consultancies

For consultancies, the Council identifies topics of policy importance for research and then develops proposals, which are advertised publicly. These consultancies are designed to meet highly specific objectives to which the Council has accorded priority. Such research could, for example, be designed to contribute to, or complement, the work of national initiatives by other organisations or of state/territory initiatives that have clear policy or best practice implications for other Australian governments.

Funding grants

The Guidelines for grants issued by the Council for applicants include the following criteria adopted by the Council in consideration of applications:

Criminology Research Fund

In the 2007-08 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 2007-08 financial year totalled $187,000. Each state and territory made contributions on a population basis as shown in the table below.

State and territory contributions, 2007-08
State/Territory$
Australian Capital Territory3,019
New South Wales61,383
Victoria46,317
Queensland37,156
Western Australia 18,699
South Australia 14,118
Tasmania4,399
Northern Territory1,909

The table below is a summary of the CRC income and expenditure for 2007-08.

Key financial items, 2007-08 ($)
Income559,812
New grants70,745
Ongoing grants296,525
Ongoing consultancies58,891

Selection panel

A panel comprising two senior criminologists, selected by the Council from recommendations by the President of ANZSOC, considers applications for general grants for research funding submitted to Council. The panel this year was Professor Jenny Fleming and Professor Simon Bronitt. Panel members are required to assess all applications 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, currently Dr Julia Tresidder, who submits final recommendations to the CRC for consideration at its November meeting.

Report on performance

New projects

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.

This empirical study examines whether audiovisual instruction can improve jury understanding and use of expert evidence on the science of DNA technology and the mathematical concepts about Random Match Probability (RMP) in criminal trials. Using experimental methods, the study will present cognitively sequenced multimedia modules that are judge-led (neutral) or prosecution-led (partisan) on DNA and RMP to jury-eligible citizens who render a verdict in a simulated homicide case. Outcomes indicating whether expert evidence presented verbally or with multimedia is more effective will assist courts and policy makers to adopt procedures to enhance justice in criminal cases.

CRC 15/07-08: The use and impact of diversionary processes for reducing Indigenous over-representation

Dr Troy Allard, Associate Professor Anna Stewart, Dr Hennessey Hayes and Dr Brett Gray, Griffith University. The CRC made a grant of $36,707 for this project.

The aims of this project are twofold: (i) to compare demographic characteristics (including Indigenous status) and nature of offending by young people who are formally cautioned, attend a conference, or have a court appearance for their first contact with the juvenile justice system; and (ii) to explore the effect of the different processing options on re-contact with the juvenile justice system. The project will require the creation of a de-identified longitudinal offender-based dataset containing information relating to all individuals born in 1991 who had contact with the Queensland juvenile justice system for a formal police caution, a police referred conference, a court-referred conference or a finalised children's court appearance. Analyses of this dataset will enable comparisons to be made about the three main options used in processing young people as well as an understanding of the usefulness of diversion.

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.

This study will explore the independent effects of individual characteristics, family processes and neighbourhood contexts on antisocial behaviour across 84 statistical local areas in South East Queensland. By merging individual and family-level Mater University Study of Pregnancy data with broader neighbourhood Australian Bureau of Statistics data, this project takes a new and innovative approach to distinguish individual, familial and social predictors of antisocial behaviour. Furthermore, it will be the first in Australia to utilise multilevel statistical techniques to examine the simultaneous impact of such influences. This research will make a contribution to extant literature and provide Australian-specific evidence for prevention and intervention programs.

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.

This research will examine the nature and effectiveness of different styles of community based supervision of offenders. The research will be conducted in collaboration with the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice. The study sample will include 50 juvenile justice workers and five clients of each (250 altogether). Data will be collected through observation of worker-client interviews, follow-up interviews with the clients and the workers, and outcome data from files and police records. The study will provide information about what goes on in worker-client interviews, and what works best in fostering compliance and reducing recidivism.

Continuing projects

CRC 02/04-05: The impact of penalty severity on juvenile recidivism

Dr Don Weatherburn and Neil Donnelly, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The CRC made a grant of $340,868 for this project.

CRC 04/06-07: Jury sentencing survey

Professor Kate Warner, Dr Julia Davis, Dr Maggie Walter and Dr Rebecca Bradfield, University of Tasmania. The CRC made a grant of $174,050 for this project.

Consultancies

Correctional offender treatment programs: the 2008 national picture, $87,560

Karen Heseltine, Associate Professor Andrew Day and Professor Rick Sarre, ForenPsych Pty Ltd.

This study aims to examine 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, Correctional offender rehabilitation programs: the national picture in Australia (Howells et al. 2004; http://crg.aic.gov.au/reports/ 200203-04.html), adding new and higher-quality data to this report. Doing so will address the following requirements: first, to describe the extent and current nature of adult offender treatment programs in correctional services throughout Australia, identifying those programs that have been shown to work; second, using a checklist of program characteristics to determine the consistency of programs with best practice, as defined by the scientific literature and the evidence base to support program delivery; third, to determine the nature and extent of changes in correctional programming since 2004; and fourth, to describe the likely future developments in and possible impediments to program implementation, from the perspective of correctional managers. In all of these matters, recommendations will be made as to policy development, providing a more systematic and rigorous evidence base for correctional programming.

Reports of completed research

The Council received five reports of completed research projects during the year, summaries of which are given below.

CRC 05/03-04: Risk factors and treatment outcomes in intra-familial adolescent sex offenders

Associate Professor Jan Grant, Dr David Indermaur, Dr Jenny Thornton, Christabel Chamarette and Sue DeSouza, Curtin University of Technology. The CRC made a grant of $162,846 for this project.

This report provides a detailed description of 38 intra-familial adolescent sex offenders (IASOs) and their families attending a community-based treatment program. The research examined the IASOs' psychological profile, treatment needs, family structures and experiences of treatment. The IASOs studied were highly likely to be victims of sexual and/or physical abuse within the family; to have a high number of co-occurring psychological, developmental, and social problems; and to show a high rate of family fragmentation and dysfunction. The treatment included interventions for the IASOs and their families. Parents and adolescents reported positive changes in the family system at the end of treatment, a finding confirmed by significant changes on a measure of family functioning. Parents and adolescents also reported that the IASOs were less impulsive and more likely to have established age-appropriate friendships following treatment. It was concluded that treatment for IASOs needs to be holistic, including both the IASO and their family, and that policy in this area needs to take account of predisposing and precipitating factors.

CRC 30/04-05: Schizophrenia and offending: area of residence and the impact of social disorganisation and disadvantage

Frank Morgan, Vera Morgan, Professor Assen Jablensky, Anna Ferrante and Guilietta Valuri, University of Western Australia. The CRC made a grant of $46,127 for this project.

The study investigated the correlation between socio-structural characteristics of postcodes and the prevalence of arrest, of schizophrenia diagnosis, and of joint schizophrenia diagnosis and arrest. It showed strong correlations, but that these indicators of social disorganisation are more strongly associated with arrest, and with the joint prevalence of schizophrenia diagnosis and arrest, than they are with schizophrenia. The highest prevalence occur for postcodes in the highest quartiles of disadvantage, ethnic heterogeneity, residential mobility and inequality. However, areas of different population size exhibit only small differences in the prevalence of these crime and mental health measures.

CRC 06/05-06: Adolescent stalking: offence characteristics and effectiveness of criminal justice interventions

Dr Teresa Flower, Dr Rosemary Purcell and Professor Paul Mullen, Monash University. The CRC made a grant of $66,803 for this project.

Current social and scientific constructions of stalking are limited by the almost exclusive focus on it as a form of adult-only violence. Using applications for intervention orders against juvenile defendants, this is the first empirical study to systematically examine the nature and contexts of stalking by juveniles. Of 928 applications for an intervention order against a juvenile during the study period, 40 percent of cases involved persistent stalking and 47 percent involved cases of family violence (where the defendant and applicant were related). The majority of defendants were male and most applicants female. Stalking usually emerged in the context of resentment and bullying, or rejection following the termination of an intimate relationship. A minority of cases were primarily motivated by predatory sexual behaviour or infatuation. In contrast, family violence involving a juvenile defendant overwhelmingly occurred in the context of longstanding behavioural problems. The majority of applications were not granted, as the applicants withdrew their applications or failed to attend the court hearing. Of the orders that were granted, 19 percent were subsequently breached, most commonly family violence cases. This research indicates that juveniles do engage in stalking behaviour, motivated by a range of influences, and productive of significant distress in their victims. The seriousness accorded adult forms of stalking should also apply to juveniles.

CRC 35/05-06: A population based study examining the impact of interpersonal violence victimisation on mental health

Dr Lynn Meuleners, Associate Professor Andy Lee and Delia Hendrie, Edith Cowan University. The CRC made a grant of $90,249 for this project.

Interpersonal violence victimisation (interpersonal violence) is a significant public health concern, in terms of its impact both on the community and on the health-care system nationally and internationally. A population-based, retrospective study of interpersonal violence in Western Australia was undertaken using the Western Australian Data Linkage System. It systematically links administrative health data such as morbidity, mortality and mental health data. The Data Linkage System was used to identify every individual in Western Australia who was admitted to hospital or killed as a result of an injury inflicted by others. This information was linked to any past admission for a mental illness. The results of this research have provided a thorough description of the size and nature of interpersonal violence in Western Australia from 1990 to 2004. It has aided in identifying pertinent risk factors associated with violence victimisation, both in the population as a whole and specifically among people with mental illness. Also, the health system costs of interpersonal violence victimisation were calculated, as well as the share of these costs attributable to treatment of victims with mental illness. Recommendations were made accordingly.

CRC 39/05-06: Parents as prisoners: maintaining the parent-child relationship

Dr Rosemary Sheehan and Gregory Levine, Monash University. The CRC made a grant of $47,264 for this project.

This study was undertaken in the Melbourne Children's Court from June to December 2006, to identify the extent to which children involved in child protection proceedings had parents currently or previously in prison, or were awaiting sentencing. It aimed to examine the impact of parental imprisonment on these children, to examine their care histories to discover what affects the stability and continuity of their care, and to propose ways in which the court and welfare systems should respond to these children's special circumstances. The children in the study were in the children's court predominantly because of concerns about physical and emotional harm, concerns about child development, or concerns for parental incapacity to provide care for the child, all linked to their parents' offending, as well as problems with substance abuse, mental health, family violence and transience. The impact of these experiences on the children was reflected in the health, welfare and behavioural concerns expressed about them. Yet there was no coordinated response by the child protection and justice systems to manage these children's situations and no formal case planning process for the children and their care. As a result, it was recommended there should be early intervention for children affected by parental offending, and the development, with the corrections system, of protocols for child protection services when children's parents enter prison. Such approaches will better address the instability and disruption in care that these children experience and their vulnerability as adults to mental health and relationship problems, and to poor education and employment outcomes.

Freedom of Information

This statement is provided in accordance with section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982. It refers to the structure of the CRC and the categories of documents it holds and gives information as to obtaining access.

Categories of documents

FOI requests during 2007-08

The Council received no requests for information under the provisions of the Act during the year ending 30 June 2008.

FOI requests can be made in writing to the General Manager, Corporate Services, Australian Institute of Criminology, GPO Box 2944, Canberra ACT 2601.

Appendix

CRC as at 30 June 2008
JurisdictionMember & DeputyAppointed
Australian GovernmentMember: Dr Dianne Heriot19/07/06
Deputy: Ms Joanne Blackburn24/07/06
New South WalesMember: Mr Laurie Glanfield (Chair)30/07/91
Deputy: Mr Brendon Thomas08/11/07
Australian Capital TerritoryMember: Ms Renee Leon18/07/06
Deputy: Mr Stephen Goggs13/06/07
Northern TerritoryMember: Mr Richard Coates19/09/02
Deputy: Mr Allan Van Zyl13/04/05
QueenslandMember: Mr Terry Ryan24/05/04
Deputy: Mr Mark Pathe26/07/04
South AustraliaMember: Ms Rebecca Parry07/03/08
Deputy: Vacant
TasmaniaMember: Mr Norman Reaburn09/10/00
Deputy: Mr Peter Maloney08/08/00
VictoriaMember: Ms Penny Armytage19/06/03
Deputy: Mr Neil Robertson11/02/05
Western AustraliaMember: Ms Cheryl Gwilliam04/03/08
Deputy: Vacant
Notes

Ms Carole Shearer attended the August CRC meeting as an observer for the Australian Government, Mr Peter Severin attended the August CRC meeting as an observer for South Australia, Ms Rebecca Parry attended the November CRC meeting as an observer for South Australia prior to her official appointment in March 2008, and Ms Cheryl Gwilliam attended the August and November CRC meetings as an observer for Western Australia prior to her official appointment in March 2008.

There was a 96 percent attendance rate by Australian government, state and territory representatives of the CRC for this financial year.

The meeting held on 30 August 2007 was convened at the Department of Justice and Attorney-General in Brisbane. The meeting held on 29 November 2007 was convened at the ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety in Canberra. The meeting held on 10 April 2008 was convened at the AIC in Canberra.

At the meeting on 10 April 2008, Mr Laurie Glanfield, AM, was unanimously re-elected chair of the Council. At this meeting, the Council confirmed its decision to elect its representatives from Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory as members to the Board of Management of the AIC.

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