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2008 Australian Crime & Violence Prevention Awards National Winners - project summaries

Six ground-breaking projects involving rugby league players, Indigenous elders, survivors of domestic violence, police and anti-crime agencies have won national recognition at the 2008 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA). Three of the projects come from the community sector, two from Police and one from government.

In addition to the six national winners there were 30 other state and territory winners. For full list of winners please see the 2008 winners brochure.

The ACVPA is a joint initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments which rewards outstanding community-based projects that prevent or reduce crime and violence.

The awards were presented by Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus at an official ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra today. The winning projects, selected from a field of 67 nominated across Australia, focus primarily on domestic violence and youth and alcohol-related crime.

Mr Debus said each winning project was unique and had achieved outstanding results, such as drops in crime rates of 55 to 80 percent.

"Two themes tying the six projects together were partnerships which clearly demonstrate the power of communities coming together and a focus on achieving sustainable cultural change to break cycles of violence," Mr Debus said.

"These awards acknowledge the great work of exceptional people who help create a safer and better future for fellow Australians. Through hard work and commitment they have helped change community attitudes towards crime and reduced the incidence of crime.

"These people understand better than anyone that crime prevention isn't just a task for police and government but for all of us."

The 2008 national winning projects are:

  • Domestic Violence - it's not our game (QLD): A ground-breaking campaign in Far North Queensland which uses the popular local rugby league team as role models to create a culture in which domestic violence is not the norm which has seen a 55 percent drop in domestic violence rates.
  • Groote Eylandt and Milyakburra Liquor Management (NT): A unique crime prevention project targeting the 4000 predominantly Indigenous members of the local community to reduce alcohol-related violence which has seen crime rates drop by as much as 60 to 80 percent and employment rates rise.
  • Active Partnerships Model (WA): An internationally acclaimed crime prevention model delivered by the WA Police which has successfully engaged more than 330 partners and 129 local governments to reduce crime rates.
  • Safe at Home (Tas): A revolutionary response to domestic violence which unites police, prosecutors, counsellors, legal aid, court support and child protection workers in a collaboration that has led to increased community confidence.
  • Operation Flinders (SA): A world leading crime prevention project which takes 14 to 18 year-olds deemed at risk of leaving school early, substance abuse, self harm or criminal activity on an eight-day, 100km trek to develop self esteem, leadership and responsibility.
  • Violence No Way (QLD): This project has empowered a community in Far North Queensland to report violence, making it clear that if 'you abuse you lose', supported with a training program to teach protective behaviour to school-age children.

Domestic violence - It's not our game, (Queensland)

The ground-breaking and highly successful campaign, launched in November 2006, is a joint initiative of the Normanton Building Safer Communities Action Team (BSCAT) and the Normanton Stingers Rugby League Club which aims to create a culture where domestic violence is not the norm.

Normanton is a remote community of 1500 people (60 percent Indigenous) in Queensland's North-West region (Gulf of Carpentaria), about five hours drive from Mt Isa and eight hours from Cairns. Queensland's North-West region has the highest domestic violence statistics in Queensland and, before the campaign began, Normanton had some of the highest rates in the region.

Key success factors include:

  • Members of the hugely popular local rugby league team act as role models, including agreeing to exclusion from games (and ultimately the team) for any player involved in domestic violence.
  • The Domestic Violence - it's not our game slogan is branded on team jerseys, supporters' shirts, junior Stingers jerseys, car stickers and signage at games and community events.
  • TV commercials featuring players and locals are aired during the season.

Key outcomes:

  • a 55% drop in domestic violence incidents,
  • a 64% drop in breaches of domestic violence orders; and
  • cultural shift - domestic violence is now no longer accepted and the community talks more about the issue.

Groote Eylandt and Milyakburra liquor management, (Northern Territory)

A unique, community-driven project targeting the 4000 predominantly Indigenous members of Groote Eylandt and Milyakburra communities (600km east of Darwin) which aims to reduce the levels of alcohol-related violence through an alcohol permit system.

The catalyst for the project was a petition signed by 300 community members, mainly female victims, who'd had enough of alcohol-related violence. Their cause was taken up by community elders, local police, the local mine GEMCO and the Anindilyakwa Land Council, who developed the project. Work on the project began in 2002, with the permit system becoming law on 1 July 2005.

Key success factors include:

  • The first time in Australia a non-Indigenous community has been included in an alcohol-restricted area.
  • A permit system primarily driven and owned by a voluntary committee made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous community representatives, giving control back to the community.
  • The project is self-funded by community stakeholders.

Key outcomes:

  • sexual assaults down 67%,
  • aggravated assaults down 62.5%,
  • house break-ins down 86%,
  • car and other theft down 52%,
  • the lowest number of adults admitted to correctional centres for 4 years,
  • raised employment rates,
  • improved work attendance among Indigenous employees at the local mine; and
  • significant improvements in social function and increased community harmony.

Active partnerships model, (Western Australia)

The Active Partnerships Model started with support from the Office of Crime Prevention (OCP) and collaboration to solve specific crime issues with a range of agencies. The collaboration was the key to developing responses relevant to the specific hot spot areas that could also be implemented by people and organisations closest to the problem.

Not only do local initiatives benefit from high-level coordination and support from both the WA Police Force and the Office of Crime Prevention but the strategic use of resources results in a much greater return on investment. The Active Partnerships Model is very cost effective.

Key success factors include:

  • Success optimised by the unique combination of high level coordination and communication from the OCP with commitment from local government, community groups and individuals,
  • solutions specifically tailored to crime hot spots,
  • implemented by people closest to the problem; and
  • use of resources more strategically, delivering cost-effective solutions.

Key outcomes:

  • Recognition that crime is everyone's business, not just that of police.
  • Leavers WA: 171 arrests in 2004, only 19 arrests in 2007; clean up costs were $22,700 in 2004 but only $14,500 in 2007.
  • Eyes on the Street: intelligence gathering program for police - 1000 branded vehicles, 125 agencies are partners and 4500 pieces of information received since 2005.
  • Burglar Beware: reduction in property crime in 12 months of 45%, 24% and 51% in Bentley, Morley and Carnavon respectively.

Safe at home, (Tasmania)

Safe at Home is a revolutionary whole-of-government strategy for responding to family violence in Tasmania. It is founded upon the principle of 'primacy of the safety of the victim' and is designed to bring about a reduction in the incidence of family violence. The program is overarched by the innovative Family Violence Act 2004 and the paramount considerations in the administration of this Act are the safety, psychological wellbeing and interests of adults and children affected by family violence.

Police, prosecutors, counselors, legal aid, court support and child protection workers work within a collaborative framework that combines extensive law reform, significant changes in police practices and wide-ranging supportive interventions focused on the risk, safety and therapeutic needs of people affected by family violence.

Key success factors include:

  • Recognition that family violence is not just physical - the definition of family violence was widened to include emotional and economic abuse.
  • The establishment of Victim Safety Response Teams (1 sergeant and 4 constables).
  • Children now recognised as victims in their own right, backed up with specific child-focused provisions, including specialist counseling services.
  • Mandatory reporting of children affected or likely to be affected by family violence rather than relying on the victims to have to make the report.
  • The ability of police to extend the length of Police Family Violence Orders for up to 12 months.
  • A Risk Assessment Screening Tool (RAST) - developed as part of the project and used by police to assess the likelihood of repetition or escalation of violence by the offender.
  • A Family Violence Offender Intervention Program available to high risk offenders to help them address violent behavior.

Key outcomes:

  • An increased sense of safety among the adult and child victims of domestic violence.
  • Improved confidence within the community that if domestic violence crimes are reported appropriate action will be taken.
  • A decrease in the number of domestic violence murders (from 7 in 2000-03 to 4 in 2004-07).
  • Trends indicate a reduction in repeat offenders.

Operation Flinders, (South Australia)

The Operation Flinders Foundation is an SA-based charitable organisation that runs a wilderness- program for young people who have a history of offending, or are at risk of offending, to help reduce youth crime rates and recidivism. It takes 14 to 18-year-old South Australians on an eight-day, 100km challenge trek in the Flinders Ranges under the supervision of experienced team leaders - often a serving or retired army or police officer skilled in navigation and bushcraft.

The aim is to help them develop self esteem, leadership, motivation, teamwork and responsibility.

They live and sleep outside, learn basic bush survival skills, abseil and discover Indigenous culture. Participants are referred from the education system, Families SA, the Youth Court, Aboriginal Support and other community groups. Approximately 35 percent of participants are young women and 14 percent are young Aboriginals.

Key success factors include:

  • The program is clinically-based - oversight is provided by a clinical advisory committee.
  • It focuses on understanding, not punishment.
  • Ongoing support is provided - following the challenge trek participants identified as needing further support are connected to appropriate services, eg. counselling, anger management, drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Key outcomes:

  • More than 3500 participants from metropolitan and regional SA (about 300 per year).
  • An independent evaluation in 2001 reported that:
    • the program was a world leader in its outcomes,
    • participants recorded a significant improvement in their attitude towards school and felt encouraged to remain at school; and
    • those who completed the program were less likely to commit crime.

Violence no way, (Queensland)

The Violence No Way campaign grew out of the Far North Queensland community's concern about rates of violence that were far higher than the state average (assaults are more than double the average) and increasing recognition that violence against people was at an unacceptable level.

Community concerns were focussed with large marches against violence in major centres and followed up with development of community-based initiatives and strong partnerships with the Queensland Police Service (Far North Region).

Violence is addressed at all levels with local community leaders and crime prevention groups working with police and media partners to address violence before, during and after the fact. The perception that a perpetrator can avoid responsibility for violence is being changed with strong messages such as 'if you commit violence you lose family, friends, life, freedom' and 'you abuse you lose'.

Key success factors include:

  • The campaign is strongly embraced and driven by the local community.
  • Protective behaviours training has been provided to all children in Grade 8 in 2007 (12,000) in the Atherton Tablelands and Cassowary Coast areas.
  • Extensive training and changes in operational procedures within the Queensland Police Service.
  • Strong community partnerships and greater sharing of information to keep the message going.

Key outcomes:

  • a community empowered to report crime,
  • the community and police engaged in genuine partnerships to reduce violence,
  • the changing of the attitudes of would-be offenders that violence is an acceptable option; and
  • a community united in the message that unlawful violence is unacceptable.