Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

40 years of criminology research celebrated

Media Release

16 November 2012

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) yesterday celebrated its 40th anniversary with a dinner at Old Parliament House attended by staff, former directors, former staff and the current Criminology Research Advisory Board.
The AIC’s founding legislation the Criminology Research Act 1971, commenced on November 6, 1972 on the cusp of that year’s general election.

The AIC received strong bipartisan support from both the Gorton Government’s Attorney-General, Tom Hughes QC, who in 1971 introduced the legislation to found the AIC, and the incoming Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam and his Attorney-General, Lionel Murphy.

The current Director and chief executive, Dr Adam Tomison said: “In the late 1960s deficiencies in criminological data and a paucity of research into crime in Australia prompted the Australian Government to enact the Criminology Research Act 1971.
Introducing the bill a year earlier, on 24 February 1971, then Attorney-General, Tom Hughes QC, stated in his second reading speech:

One of the big gaps in our resources both in Australia and overseas is the lack of basic information about the incidence and extent of crime. We do not know, for example, the extent to which statistics reflect increased police efficiency or improved crime reporting standards, bringing out into the light more of the dark figure than was previously known.

Clearly, the provision of facilities for research into crime is an urgent and pressing need. There is no deployment on anationally co-ordinated basis of existing facilities in Australia for criminological research.

Since then the AIC has been led by seven directors, plus two long-term acting directors.

“The AIC’s longstanding monitoring programs such as the 20-year-long Deaths in Custody program emerging from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the Drugs Use Monitoring Australia program developed here in 1999 have provided a wealth of data for law enforcement, corrections and courts,” Dr Tomison said.

AIC researchers have generated thousands of publications since the early 1970’s. The AIC has also employed many young Australian criminologists who have gone on to distinguished careers. Its JV Barry Library is the largest specialist criminological collection in the southern hemisphere.

“Along with core research, the AIC has provided key advice to the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and national and international policing agencies.

“We have also maintained valuable partnerships with organisations such as the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, the UN office of Drugs and Crime and recently, through our trafficking in humans research, the International Office of Migration,” Dr Tomison said.