CRC funded reports
The Council received reports from 19 completed research projects during the year 1994-95. Summaries of these reports are given below. These reports are held by the Australian Institute of Criminology's JV Barry Library and are available on inter-library loan. For full bibliographic information on any report, search the Library's Catalogue.
- Children as witnesses
- Aborigines: the relationship between sport and delinquency
- Aboriginal youth and juvenile justice in New South Wales
- Detection and prevention of domestic violence
- Evaluating prostitution law reform in Victoria: young people and prostitution
- The regulatory response to industrial fatalities
- Age-appropriate interviewing conditions for pre-school witnesses
- Responsible serving of alcohol pilot project
- Victim participation, sentence outcome and victim satisfaction with justice: evaluation of the SA experience with victim impact statements
- On the spot fines in Victoria
- Blood pressure - the ability of Australian regulators to respond to a worldwide trend toward criminal transactions in blood
- Policing pollution: regulating the chemical industry
- Evaluating a new initiative in juvenile justice
- An evaluation of attitude behaviour change programs for male perpetrators of family violence
- Systematising police summaries in the mention court: victim impact statements through the back door
- The communicative needs of intellectually disabled people - a protocol for police officers
- A comparison of the early childhood experiences of convicted child molesters and male survivors of sexual abuse who are not offenders
- Post-release experience of imprisoned mothers
- See you on the flip side: an investigative and educational TV documentary on issues faced by incarcerated male and female offenders who are released into the community in NSW
Report title: Children as Witnesses
Grantees: Dr Judith Cashmore and Dr Kay Bussey, School of Behavioural Sciences, Macquarie University, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (26/88)
Concern about the difficulties faced by child witnesses in the legal system has led to two major areas of legal reform. These are the removal or reduction of formal barriers to children's testimony in the form of competence and physical facilities to reduce the emotional pressures of testifying This study examined judges' and magistrates' concerns about child witnesses, their perceptions of the competence of children to give evidence and of the acceptability and need for special procedures to facilitate children's testimony.
Fifty magistrates and judges in New South Wales were asked via interview or questionnaire about their beliefs, concerns and practices related to child witnesses. Magistrates tended to be more positive than judges about the benefits of testifying, more sensitive to the children's difficulty in confronting the accused, and more accepting of various special provisions. Similarly, judicial officers with more experience with child witnesses tended to be more child-focussed than those with less experience.
These findings are consistent with the findings of other studies, and provide a basis for judicial education in relation to child witnesses.
Report title: Aborigines: Sport, Violence and Survival (PDF 5MB)
Grantees: Prof Colin Tatz, Macquarie University, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (18/89)
This project began as a small-scale study of forty-five communities over six months. The aim was to see whether or not sports facilities and competition reduced growing rates of adult and juvenile delinquency. In the end it became a five-year study of eighty communities involving in-depth interviews with 520 Aboriginal men and women, government officers of various specialisations, sports officials, police and correctional service officers.
This report made several recommendations including the setting up of a National Aboriginal Sports Commission, not solely dependent on government funding, and independent of other sports institutes, to provide grants, advice, staff and equipment directly to communities in need and not through regional agencies.
Report title: Aboriginal Youth and Juvenile Justice in New South Wales (PDF 4.6MB)
Grantees: Garth Luke and Chris Cunneen, Aboriginal Law Centre, The University of Sydney, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (28/89)
This study sought to identify factors which may contribute to the over-representation of young Aboriginal people in the juvenile justice system. In particular, it examined the extent to which discretionary decision-making by criminal justice agencies such as the police and courts affects Aboriginal young people. It also aimed to provide a basis for the development of strategies to reduce the level of over-representation of young Aboriginal people in the juvenile justice system.
It was concluded that while Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people are treated equitably by the courts, there appears to be some bias against young Aboriginal people in police decisions to arrest and prosecute. The research consequently suggested that there should be a strong emphasis on improving equity at the level of police decision-making.
Although court decisions themselves appeared to be unbiased, it was concluded that the significantly longer criminal records of young Aboriginal people increase the likelihood that they will receive a harsher penalty such as a detention order.
The over-representation of Aboriginal people is one of the most significant issues in the criminal justice system and it is not possible to comprehensively monitor the effects of the system on Aboriginal people as Aboriginality is not regularly recorded in criminal justice data collection systems. The research recommended that the most relevant point of collection would be at the time of court proceedings, based on a person's own assessment of their cultural identification.
Report title: Detection and Prevention of Domestic Violence (PDF 10.3MB)
Grantees: Prof Beverley Raphael and Assoc Prof Joan Lawrence, Department of Psychiatry, University of Queensland, Queensland
Criminology Research Council grant ; (33/89)
The products of this research, comprising various papers and journal articles, have been bound in one volume under the project's title.
An epidemiological study was conducted at the Emergency Department of Royal Brisbane Hospital, a major public hospital. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence rates of victims of domestic violence who present at an Emergency Department in Australia; to determine their detection rates by medical staff; to determine the barriers to disclosure by domestic violence victims to health professionals; to describe the characteristics of victims of domestic violence who attend the Emergency Department and to enhance the management of domestic violence related problems by staff.
The study has provided the first Australian data on domestic violence victims in the emergency department of a large metropolitan public hospital. The findings of the study have impacted on the health services in Queensland. The principles of education for doctors and nurses about domestic violence which were established in this project have been adopted by Queensland Health in the training programs for doctors and nurses in Queensland public hospitals which commenced in 1992. Materials which were developed for the education program at Royal Brisbane Hospital have been adapted and produced jointly by Queensland Health and Department of Psychiatry, University of Queensland.
The findings from this study have been presented at national and international conferences. The study has provided a stimulus for research in other emergency departments of hospitals in Australia, and this type of research is currently being replicated by the Northern Sydney Area Health Service at Royal North Shore Hospital. The research highlighted the need for further investigation of the psychiatric consequences of being a victim of domestic violence.
Report title: Young People Involved in Prostitution in Victoria (PDF 3.5MB)
Grantees: Dr Linda Hancock, Deakin University, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (36/89)
This research focuses on three main areas. As a follow-up to a similar study conducted 5 years earlier for the Neave Inquiry into Prostitution in Victoria, it examines first, the extent of young peoples' involvement in prostitution, the types of prostitution activity and factors related to youth involved in prostitution; secondly, whether there had been an increase in the number of young people involved in prostitution and thirdly, it examines policy changes affecting young people and factors with particular bearing on policies affecting youth involved in prostitution.
The study method involved a search of records, in log books, case books and police social background reports for the calendar year 1989, as well as interviews with those police officers, youth workers and others most closely involved with youth, at 11 Melbourne metropolitan police district offices, police units and special squads in contact with youth, three youth training centres and two inner city youth welfare programs.
Contrary to our predictions, the study found a 38% decrease in the number of young people involved in prostitution, although the proportions contacted by police, youth training centres and inner city youth services remained approximately the same.
These findings are discussed in the context of changes to Victorian Children's Court and Child Welfare legislation, legislation protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation; the Neave Inquiry into Prostitution; worsening structural unemployment affecting young people and other relevant state and commonwealth policies.
Report title: The Regulatory Response to Industrial Fatalities (PDF 1.25MB)
Grantees: Dr Andrew Hopkins, Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory
Criminology Research Council grant ; (44/89)
The products of this research, comprising various papers and journal articles, have been bound in one volume under the project's title.
This study was conceived as a joint project between Dr Andrew Hopkins of the ANU and Dr James Harrison, then of the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOHS), now Director of the National Injury Surveillance Unit in Adelaide. It is based in part on data supplied by NIOHS and on data collected independently by the investigators from the NSW Coroner, the industrial inspectorate, and various other regulatory bodies.
The aim of the project was to study the response of the legal/regulator system to all 129 work-related fatalities which occurred in NSW in 1984. The year 1984 was chosen because NIOHS had already carried out a major study identifying which of the many thousands of fatalities reported to coroners in 1984 were work-related. It was this previous work which made the present study feasible.
One of the more striking findings of the study was that 28 per cent of all the work-related fatalities under consideration involved trucks, most of them travelling over long distances. This group of cases was looked at in detail. Such cases arguably involve violations of the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act, which requires employers to provide a safe system of work, but none of the fatalities was investigated by the agency responsible for enforcing this Act.
Report title: Effects of Props and Caregiver on Reliability of Report by Young Witnesses
Grantees: Gemma O'Callaghan, Department of Psychology, University of Tasmania, Tasmania
Criminology Research Council grant ; (6/90)
Four separate studies were proposed and approved to evaluate the efficacy of props to enhance the reliability of witness report from very young children (3, 4 and 5 year olds). These studies extended the work of O'Callaghan and D'Arcy (1989) which suggested that, contrary to increasing advice in psycholegal literature at that time, props may not achieve this desired effect. The studies examined some of the conditions for which the use of props have been proposed as likely to enhance accuracy of report.
These extended studies, using a more ecologically valid stimulus event than in the original study, have allowed more rigorous examination of conditions under which props may be useful as retrieval cues.
Report title: Responsible Serving of Alcohol Pilot Project (PDF 6.8MB)
Grantees: Waverley Municipal Council, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (16/91)
This Project arose from the discovery by Council of a high level of concern in the community about alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour. With the assistance of the NSW Police Service, the NSW Health Department's Drug and Alcohol Directorate, the Roads and Traffic Authority, the Eastern Area Health Service and the local community, the Project developed a Responsible Serving of Alcohol Training Package to train the licensees and staff of licensed premises in compliance with the NSW Liquor Act (1982).
The four hour training package was designed to (i) equip participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to comply with the NSW Liquor Act, and (ii) develop profitable service practices within licensed premises in conjunction with management. In total, training was delivered to five hotels and one licensed club. Night clubs proved impossible to recruit into the project, and other licensed clubs were almost equally resistant.
Evaluation monitored changes in the knowledge of servers, changes in serving practices, changes in management practices, and changes in behaviour of patrons. The results indicated little change in any of these indicators, except an improvement in the knowledge of the Liquor Act demonstrated by bar staff.
The research concluded that the training package is an excellent training resource for the staff of licensed premises. However, unless compliance with the Liquor Act is policed more rigorously, licensees will continue to be reluctant to change current practice.
Victim participation, sentence outcome and victim satisfaction with justice: evaluation of the SA experience with victim impact statements
Report title: Victim Impact Statements in South Australia: An Evaluation, Research Report Series C No. 6 / Edna Erez, Leigh Roeger and Frank Morgan (PDF 6.5MB)
Grantees: Prof Edna Erez, Office of Crime Statistics, South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (20/91)
This report presents the findings of an evaluation of Victim Impact Statements (VIS) in South Australia. The evaluation covered three main areas; the effect of VIS on the criminal justice process; the effect of VIS on victim satisfaction with the criminal justice system; and the effect of VIS on sentencing outcomes.
A series of interviews with members of the legal profession contributed to an assessment of the effects of VIS on the criminal justice process.
The study examined the effect of VIS on sentencing outcomes by analysing sentencing trends in the Supreme and District Courts before and after the introduction of VIS. In addition a multivariate analysis was conducted on assault cases finalised before and after the introduction of VIS.
It is the opinion of the researchers that the South Australian Experience with VIS will provide support for the positions of both those in favour and those against VIS. Opponents of VIS will point to the very minimal changes and improvements which have occurred as a result of the introduction of VIS. On the other hand, those in favour will argue that the evaluation dispels fears about their supposed detrimental effects and they will continue to maintain their belief in the presumed benefits of VIS if properly implemented.
Report title: Criminal Justice on the Spot in Victoria (PDF 17.8MB)
Grantees: Prof Richard Fox, Faculty of Law, Monash University, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (27/91)
The aim of this project was to examine the law and practice relating to the use of infringement notices (on-the-spot fines) as a criminal sanction in Victoria and the legal and criminological implications for Victoria and other Australian jurisdictions of the expanding use of this form of penalty. This is the first major Australian research study on the topic.
The empirical component of this research involved obtaining a count of all infringement notices issued in Victoria during a single twelve month period. The financial year 1 July 1990 to 30 June 1991 was selected to allow the outcome of notices issued in this period to be later tracked for 18 months from the last infringement notice issued in the sample.
The study recommends the enactment of an Infringement Act, preferably on a national cooperative basis, to formally define the class of summary offences called infringements and to set boundaries on the measures which may be taken in relation to this category of lesser offences. It would address such matters as the maximum level of monetary punishment, the permissible collateral consequences in terms of conviction and disqualification, and the procedures to be adopted in relation to the issue and enforcement of on-the-spot tickets. This should provide the basis for more principled reliance on this measure than at present.
Blood pressure - the ability of Australian regulators to respond to a worldwide trend toward criminal transactions in blood
Report title: Red Alert! Is Regulation working for Imported and CSL Blood Products?
Chapters 1 - 9 (PDF 12MB) Chapters 10 - 16 (PDF 10MB)
Grantee: Katherine Beauchamp, University of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Criminology Research Council grant ; (37/91)
This study identified a number of problem areas with respect to blood products for human use in Australia. These problems included a lack of a clear policy on human blood, a lack of clarity concerning legal powers for securing compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, a lack of information with the potential to assist the regulatory process for blood products, inadequate scrutiny and regulation of blood products, inadequate control over blood products moving in and out of Australia, ineffective regulation of foreign blood products imported into Australia, and a range of other problems relating to the regulation of supply, demand, usage and patient consent.
Notwithstanding a number of regulatory changes to the supply of blood products which occurred while the research was in progress, the researchers were able to make a range of recommendations of improvements. These canvassed changes in policy formulation, increased consultation and information-sharing between the relevant agencies, clearer allocation of agency responsibilities, adequate enforcement of licensing requirements, uniform tests by blood collection centres, and other improved accountability measures.
Report title: Policing Pollution: Regulating the Chemical Industry (PDF 4.5MB)
Grantee: Prof Neil Gunningham, Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory
Criminology Research Council grant ; (8/92)
This study examines the role of self-regulation as a strategy for environment protection. In particular it explores the chemical industry's Responsible Care Program. Responsible Care is a far-reaching and sophisticated self-regulatory scheme intended to reduce chemical accidents and pollution, to build industry credibility through improved performance and increased communication, and to involve the community in decision making.
A classic solution to the collective action problem is mutual coercion, mutually agreed on. That is, voluntary compliance of the majority of firms may ultimately depend on the coercive imposition of a code of conduct on the minority of freeriders. There are three ways in which this might be achieved under Responsible Care. These are: self policing by the industry association; informal social control exercised by the industry or its members; and direct state intervention (co-regulation).
The arguments in favour of co-regulation are compelling. Government intervention is necessary to ensure that the industry performs its self regulatory tasks honestly and effectively, to provide extra leverage when the industry association's efforts and powers are insufficient to change the behaviour of recalcitrants, to regulate the behaviour of those who refuse to participate in the self regulatory scheme and to regulate directly where the gap between industry self interest and the public interest is too large for self regulation along to be a credible strategy. Co-regulation avoids the inflexible, costly and prescriptive mechanisms often associated with traditional regulation and facilitates cost effective and innovative industry approaches to environment protection.
Report title: A New Approach to Juvenile Justice: An Evaluation of Family Conferencing in Wagga Wagga
Grantees: Terrence O'Connell and David Moore, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (14/92)
The report is concerned with a process known as the family group conference. In the wake of an offence, and where guilt is admitted, victims, offenders, and their supporters are given an opportunity to meet in the presence of a coordinator or facilitator.
The report offers findings from a long process of consultation with many members of the Wagga community. It analyses the conference process, it allows participants to speak for themselves, it gives rank-and-file police a voice, and it offers a theoretical model to explain key aspects of both process and model. In addition to this qualitative material, the report provides as comprehensive a quantitative analysis as has been possible, given the limitations with the available statistics.
Report title: An Evaluation of Attitude Behaviour Change Programs for Male Perpetrators of Family Violence
Grantees: Dr Christine Alder and Ruth Francis, Department of Criminology, University of Melbourne, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (19/92)
The study has provided a detailed account of a selection of Victorian programs for male perpetrators of family violence. Unlike many programs in the United States and other countries, these Victorian initiatives tended not to have strong formal links with criminal justice. Almost all men taking part in groups had not been compelled to be there by a court order and were participating on a voluntary basis.
Overall the research suggested that, in Victoria at least, group programs should not be relied on to transform men from violent to non-violent and should not be viewed as an alternative to formal sanctions. Overloading groups with men whose only reason for being there was that they had to attend as part of a court order may well simply have the effect of undermining effectiveness.
Report title: Victim Information and the Criminal Justice System: Adversarial or Technocratic Reform? (PDF 2.8MB)
Grantees: Dr Roger Douglas and Kathy Laster, School of Law and Legal Studies, La Trobe University, Victoria
Criminology Research Council grant ; (15/92-3)
Growing concern with the plight of victims of crime has seen the development of reforms such as victim support services, statutory rights to victim compensation, and modifications to the rules of criminal procedure and evidence. Increasingly there is pressure to better integrate victims (or at least victim impact information) into the criminal justice process - especially at the sentencing stage.
In the last decade, the criminal justice system's commitment to efficiency has added a new dimension to proposals of reform to the criminal justice system. This is particularly noticeable in the high volume summary jurisdiction. Our study examined the effect on victim information of administrative reforms designed to make the criminal justice system more "efficient". In particular, we were concerned to assess the impact of the introduction, in Victoria, of the "mention system".
We suggest that there are two major reasons for the lack of victim information provided to the courts. One lies in the nature of the forms on which informants write their summaries. These provided only a small rectangle for the recording of the summary.
However, the study indicates that police already collect considerable information about the victim. It would therefore be relatively easy for informants to provide details of that information if appropriate space and cues existed.
Report title: Cleartalk - Police Responding to Intellectual Disability / Mark Brennan and Roslin Brennan (PDF 8.7MB)
Grantees: Dr Mark Brennan, School of Education, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Criminology Research Council grant ; (25/92-3)
There are two levels at which police can respond to the communication needs of people with an intellectual disability. The first is to recognise the basic needs of all people in situations which depend on clear communication. The second is to acknowledge the adaptations necessary in individual cases to ensure these common needs are met.
The materials seek to develop a sensitivity to the communicative demands of a situation, and are a direct response to the knowledge that many people with an intellectual disability do not have adequate opportunity to say or express what they might.
From the point of view of police work, the best results flow from collecting and recording the most complete and detailed account of an event. Efficient, fair and effective police work depend to a large extent on establishing principles and practices of communication that admit the needs of all parties.
Training police to recognise, and then more effectively communicate with, people with an intellectual disability is a political activity in that it possibly reorganises relationships and activities within the society. It has implications for the entire criminal justice system.
A comparison of the early childhood experiences of convicted child molesters and male survivors of sexual abuse who are not offenders
Report title: A Comparison of the Early Childhood and Family Experiences of Incarcerated, Convicted Male Child Molesters and Men who were Sexually Abused in Childhood and have no Convictions for Sexual Offences against Children (PDF 3MB)
Grantees: Assoc Prof Freda Briggs, University of South Australia, South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (30/92-3)
Eighty four incarcerated child molesters and ninety five non offender comparison subjects were interviewed to examine and compare their childhood and family experiences, including childhood sexual experiences and adult relationships. The convicted child molesters were inmates in South Australian, New South Wales and Western Australian Correctional Centres.
Victims of abuse confirmed that current child protection programs are inappropriate for the protection of boys because they rely on children relating sexual abuse to 'unsafe feelings' or 'uncomfortable touching' and do not address the commonly used seduction methods which involve stimulating boys' sexual curiosity with sex talk and pornography. Offenders in some States of Australia have simply been incarcerated without any attempt to provide re-education or therapy. Ignorance about ways to become effective parents has also resulted in people simply reproducing aspects of their own upbringing including problematic practices.
Report title: Mending the Broken Bond: The Post-release Experience of Imprisoned Mothers - A Case Study Report (PDF 3.1MB)
Grantees: Children of Prisoners Support Group Co-op Ltd
Criminology Research Council grant ; (35/92-3)
This study involved semi-structured interviews with women who had served at least one sentence in a NSW prison and had at least one child under the age of 18 years prior to imprisonment. All of the women interviewed agreed that imprisonment had effects on their children, and on their relationships with their children, following release from prison. The initial post-release period was a particularly stressful time, and re-establishing bonds with children following the separation of imprisonment was the most common problem identified. Recommendations for change included mechanisms for acknowledgment of mothers' responsibilities during sentencing and during imprisonment (for example, improved visiting arrangements, establishment of support and education groups and more appropriate accommodation), and implementation of supports for children, for their carers while their mothers are in prison, and for mothers and children in the post-release period.
See you on the flip side: an investigative and educational TV documentary on issues faced by incarcerated male and female offenders who are released into the community in NSW
Report title: See you on the Flip Side: A Research Project for a Documentary Film Investigating Recidivism of NSW Inmates once they are Released into the Community (PDF 2MB)
Criminology Research Council grant ; (13/93-4)
The Criminology Research Council funded the initial research project as an exploration for a documentary regarding recidivism in offenders. Recently correctional services across Australia have focused on the need to use community alternatives as a result of the negative side effects of imprisonment. The offender population in NSW gaols has risen rapidly due to increased rates of reception and longer sentences associated with truth in sentencing. Recidivism appears to be stabilised around 30% although follow-up studies are not adequate.
The aims of the first phase of the research project were to:
- Explore the issues that are faced by male and female offenders who have been incarcerated for a period of time and identify predictors that may lead to a successful return to the community rather than reoffending.
- Consider the profile of an average male and female offender, the effects of institutionalisation, a personal history of institutionalisation, the effects of sentencing and preparation for release.
- Recidivism rates for particular categories, age groups and so on, predictions on the likelihood of reoffending, the effects of a documentary on behaviour as a possible form of external monitoring, community perceptions of the ex-offender, and what form of rehabilitation is offered by the Department of Corrective Services and if this support is meeting the needs of the offender.
A summary of overseas and particularly Australian literature regarding recidivism in offenders was developed. The results were also summarised in a table outlining research hypotheses related to recidivism regarding factors such as type of offence, gender, age, family history, juvenile history, behavioural/psychiatric history, imprisonment/sentence, education and vocation in gaol, work release, release, employment, accommodation and substance use.
The next phase of the research project was to interview potential subjects. Initial interviews were conducted in Parramatta, Emu Plains, MTC Long Bay and Mulawa Women's Prison using a list supplied by the Superintendent of inmates who were due for release towards the end of 1994. Permission to interview inmates had been given by the Deputy Commissioner of NSW Dept of Corrective Services.
Those inmates who agreed were interviewed regarding their present offence and sentence, previous offending history, family relationships and plans upon release.
A vignette was written based on self-report and information gleaned from prison officers. The purpose was to match the information to literature, attempt to gauge the reliability of the inmate and predict which inmates may place a camera crew at risk s/he was in the community. Those inmates chosen were further interviewed on camera at a later date. Staff members from the Public Relations Unit of the Department of Corrective Services accompanied us and read through the information sheet with each inmate, and asked them to sign a consent and release form.
The final phase was for the psychologist to access client files through Correctional Services and Correction Health Services. This phase was deferred until funding to make the documentary could be obtained.
The results of the research project to develop a documentary has been a literature search and summary, consideration of factors that may lead to recidivism, a number of interviews of inmates willing to participate, vignettes summarising their offence history and future plans, and a documentary script (first draft). Funding is currently being sought to make the documentary and all inmates interviewed have been informed of this.