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CRC funded reports

2004/05

The Council received six reports of completed research projects during the year. 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.

  1. Attitudes toward employability of non-violent ex-offenders: employer, corrective services worker, employment support worker and offender perspectives
  2. Correctional offender rehabilitation programs: the national picture in Australia
  3. The prevalence of victimization and violent behaviour in the seriously mentally ill
  4. Predictors of violence, antisocial behaviour and relational aggression in Australian adolescents: a longitudinal study
  5. Caring for data: law, professional codes and the negotiation of confidentiality in Australian criminological research
  6. Police cautioning in Queensland: the impact of juvenile offending trajectories

Attitudes toward employability of non-violent ex-offenders: employer, corrective services worker, employment support worker and offender perspectives

Grantees: Joe Graffam, Kay Smith and Alison Shinkfield, Deakin University
Criminology Research Council grant ; (26/02-03)

This study investigated attitudes of employers, employment services workers, corrective services workers, and prisoners and offenders toward the employability of ex-prisoners and ex-offenders. A survey of 1,181 participants was conducted in Queensland and Victoria. Participants rated the probability of people from several disadvantaged groups obtaining and maintaining employment. Forensic histories were rated fourth highest of five groups in relation to both obtaining and maintaining employment. Ex-prisoners with training were rated more likely to be employed than people with single or multiple convictions. Employer ratings were lowest of the four groups, and employment services worker ratings were highest. Next, participants rated the likelihood that ex-prisoners, ex-offenders, and members of the general workforce exhibit certain employment-related skills and characteristics. Members of the general workforce were rated highest, followed by ex-offenders and ex-prisoners respectively. Employment services worker ratings of ex-prisoners and ex-offenders were lowest of the four groups; prisoners and offenders, followed by employers were highest. Previous experience with employment of ex-prisoners or ex-offenders had a positive effect on ratings in both parts of the study.

Correctional offender rehabilitation programs: the national picture in Australia

Kevin Howells, Andrew Day, Rick Sarre, Karen Heseltine and Cheryl Clay, University of South Australia
Criminology Research Council grant ; (4/02-03)

This project sought to describe the types of treatment programs that are currently offered to offenders in Australia. Data on correctional rehabilitation programs offered in each state and territory were collected through interviews with departmental representatives and review of program manuals. All jurisdictions have dedicated significant resources to the development and delivery of a suite of offender rehabilitation programs. There is a high level of similarity between states and territories in the types of program currently offered. There is an opportunity for closer collaboration between jurisdictions in the further development of both offender treatment programs and quality assurance processes.

The prevalence of victimization and violent behaviour in the seriously mentally ill

Alex McFarlane, Clara Bookless and Geoff Schrader, University of Adelaide
Criminology Research Council grant ; (16/02-03)

The aim of this study was to determine the lifetime rates of victimisation including physical and sexual assaults in a population of psychiatric inpatients, and to examine the associations between a history of victimisation and adverse outcomes. The study highlights that psychiatric patients are not just perpetrators of violence but also the victims of such acts, and suggest that those with a mental illness are highly vulnerable to physical and sexual assault. The findings in this study highlight the adverse impact which victimisation may have on the resilience of a person who has a mental illness and provide evidence that irrespective of whether victimisation is aetiologically related to mental illness, such experiences may have a deleterious effect on the longitudinal natural history of mental illness. The findings suggest that the social environments of some mentally ill individuals militate against the resolution of chronic psychiatric illness and may in fact lead to recidivism and the subsequent escalation of social and economic costs. In the shift from institutional to community care the adverse effects of the community are seldom discussed. These results highlight the need for careful attention to the nature of the social environment a system considers appropriate for a highly vulnerable and disadvantaged group, the mentally ill.

Predictors of violence, antisocial behaviour and relational aggression in Australian adolescents: a longitudinal study

John Toumbourou, Richard Catalano, Sheryl Hemphill and Jackie Clements, Murdoch Children's Research Institute
Criminology Research Council grant ; (26/03-04)

The United States of America (USA) has substantially higher rates of incarceration rates than Australia, including those in juvenile detention. This could be explained in two ways: first, there may be higher levels of problematic behaviour in the USA than Australia; or second, there may be policy differences in the responses to problematic behaviour, with more punitive approaches in the USA. This important project has drawn on longitudinal, cross-national data from state-representative samples of 5,769 students recruited in 2002 when they were in school years 5, 7 and 9 in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, USA. The objectives of this project were to: examine the frequency of antisocial behaviour and societal responses to antisocial behaviour (e.g. arrests, school suspensions) in each state; and investigate the risk and protective factors that predict subsequent antisocial behaviour, as well as exploring the influence of societal responses, controlling for other factors. The project has met all of the objectives and found that the frequency of antisocial behaviour in the two states was comparable (with small differences for specific antisocial acts). However, more punitive societal responses to antisocial behaviour were found in Washington than in Victoria. The findings suggest the existence of policy differences between the two states such that students exhibiting a similar level of antisocial behaviour in Washington State are more likely to be exposed to punitive societal responses.

Caring for data: law, professional codes and the negotiation of confidentiality in Australian criminological research

Mark Israel and Robert Chalmers, Flinders University
Criminology Research Council grant ; (9/03-04)

In this report, the researchers offer guidance to criminologists attempting to navigate, and manage the impact of, laws that relate to the protection and disclosure of confidential and personal information that they gather in the course of their research. They start by providing examples of the impact of relevant laws on the practice of criminologists to set this work in it proper context, and then provide a general overview of laws relating to issues such as privacy, confidentiality and compelled disclosure. Drawing on this background, the report provides brief responses to frequently asked questions covering the ways researchers gather, store, use, disclose and reuse information. The report concludes by examining possible future developments.

Throughout the report the researchers attempt to illustrate how the practice of criminological research intersects practically with relevant laws. This intersection can be painful as relevant laws are by no means tailored to suit the environment of such research. However, the aim is to help criminologists and their institutions reach better informed decisions about management of legal risks although, of course, this report is not a substitute for specific advice.

Police cautioning in Queensland: the impact of juvenile offending trajectories

Anna Stewart and Susan Dennison, Griffith University
Criminology Research Council grant ; (35/03-04)

Contained in this report are the results of a study linking two birth cohorts (1983 and 1984) across three Queensland government administrative data systems (child protection, police cautioning and finalised court appearances). Within this study there are two projects. The first extends the work of the Pathways from child maltreatment to juvenile offending report, by adding an additional birth cohort and widening the definition of juvenile offending from finalised court appearances to include formal police cautioning. The second project examines the efficacy of police cautioning in preventing re-offending among young people.

In Queensland, one in four males under the age of 17 and one in ten females came into contact with the juvenile justice system, either through a police caution or a finalised court appearance, for offending behaviour. Similar to the findings of the original study, children who were the victims of child maltreatment were more likely to offend than children who had not been maltreated. Furthermore, the nature and timing of the victimisation contributed to the likelihood of children offending. These findings were more pronounced among males and Indigenous children. The majority of young people who came into contact with the juvenile justice system received a police caution. Of these young people just over 30 per cent re-offended and were either cautioned or ended up in court. Young people whose first contact with the juvenile justice system resulted in a finalised court appearance were more likely to re-offend than those whose first contact resulted in a police caution.

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