Australian Institute of Criminology

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The year in review

DIRECTOR’S OVERVIEW

It is my pleasure to present the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) Annual Report 2013–14 and to mark my fifth year as Director. As is always the case, 2013–14 brought with it challenges for the AIC but in my view, it was also one of the most successful years we have had since I joined the Institute in early July 2009. Substantial budget cuts in earlier years (2010–11 and 2011–12 particularly) required the AIC to reconfigure and downsize a range of functions. Further, appropriation efficiency measures experienced by the AIC over the past few years have also resulted in a number of changes and have had some effect on the delivery of outcomes in 2013–14. These have included:

  • a significant restructure of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program and reductions in the amount of data collected;
  • a review of the Research Program structure, including the expertise and skillsets required within the research teams, along with a realignment of research priorities across these teams; and
  • efficiency measures in Corporate Services.

Yet I am happy to report that in the past year, the Institute has experienced high demand from the wider crime and justice sector (national and state/territory levels) for AIC research expertise and to access or utilise the AIC’s ancillary functions (conference organisation, secretariat functions, research collection and library services). I would like to recognise the strong and active support of the AIC’s dedicated staff who have enabled the Institute to continue to position itself as a research centre of significance; one that is able to effectively meet the research needs of the Australian crime and justice sector. I would also like to note my appreciation of the sage advice and support provided to me by the members of the Criminology Research Advisory Council.

The Institute commenced a large number of projects during the year, which led to a broadening of its research teams. Significant projects were undertaken for clients including the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (countering violence extremism, identity crime, re-estimation of the costs of crime and fraud), CrimTrac, the Parliament of Victoria (support for a methamphetamine inquiry), the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and Corrections Victoria.

The AIC has continued to work to better meet the needs of Commonwealth agencies, while continuing to play a key role in meeting state/territory research needs. The Institute’s continued strong focus on maintaining a high degree of professional expertise across all elements of the agency’s business, including continuous improvement to the AIC’s research and dissemination functions, as well as the Institute’s engagement with the wider sector, have continued to be recognised. I was particularly pleased that our investment in rigorous analysis, performance measurement and evaluation practices enabled the AIC to provide confidential analysis to a number of law enforcement agencies to assist them in assessing crime trends.

Further, we began a significant partnership with CrimTrac in order to provide evaluation and performance measurement training to senior CrimTrac staff and to evaluate the efficacy of their key national databases. I am pleased that CrimTrac’s CEO has indicated a very high degree of satisfaction with the AIC’s work to date. Importantly, I am sure that this series of projects will enable the AIC to again demonstrate to the law enforcement sector the benefits of engaging the AIC to assist them in evaluating the effectiveness of key business units and service programs.

The significant increase in administrative and legislative compliance and accountability tasks the AIC has experienced since becoming a Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 agency from 1 July 2011 also continued to impact the agency, but is being managed effectively. The AIC’s Corporate Services team has spent a considerable amount of time during 2013–14 preparing for and managing the transition to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 from 1 July 2014, which has affected all Commonwealth Government agencies and companies. The AIC has also invested resources during the year to develop and enhance its protective security framework and information technology systems.

Partnerships

Overall, I am pleased to report that the AIC continued to successfully fulfil its mission, conducting and disseminating research to inform the work of governments and law enforcement, and to inform an understanding of crime in the wider community in an effective and cost-efficient manner. It has also continued to strengthen its ties with Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement and justice bodies, and a range of university and other research agencies as noted above, as is evident throughout this report.

The AIC also strengthened its international ties in 2013–14, being requested to lead the development of one of four workshops at the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which will be held in April 2015. The workshop is being prepared in partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), members of the UN’s Network of Program Institutes and with some assistance from agencies within the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s portfolio. This process has enabled the AIC to strengthen or renew ties with some of the UN’s Network of Program Institutes’ research agencies, as well as strengthen ties with the UNODC and new research institutes, such as the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ).

Corporate Services has continued to successfully provide secretariat services to the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards and the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF). NDLERF promotes quality, evidence-based practice in drug law enforcement to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of licit and illicit drug use in Australian society. The AIC also continued to host the Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse and the Crime Stoppers Australia websites, and to provide secretariat services for the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology. Performing these functions offsets some of the costs of the AIC’s corporate overheads, while increasing engagement with key groups in the sector and offering in return a quality service.

Communications and information dissemination

The AIC maintained its strong output focus this year, although the level of contracted research work reduced the Research Program’s ability to generate publications within the year. Despite this, the AIC again met the target for our two peer-reviewed flagship publication series—the Research and Public Policy series reports and Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice papers, as well as exceeding our target for other forms of publications. 2014–15 is expected to produce a bumper year for publications as staff are able to translate their 2013–14 research projects into products for the sector. Publication and dissemination of research findings will continue to be a focus for the AIC, as it fulfils its mission as the national knowledge centre on crime and justice.

The AIC held 13 events in 2013–14 on a range of crime and justice areas including three international or national conferences on serious and organised crime, child abuse and crime prevention. The AIC also partnered with Griffith University in conducting a fourth national conference on homicide. All of these events were highly successful and reflect the skills and expertise of the AIC’s small, but expert, events team.

The AIC also continued to extend its ‘reach’—the effective dissemination and use of AIC research across the nation and across the world. The electronic media have enabled an ever-increasing audience to download our publications, view our seminars and conference keynote addresses online, and to engage with the AIC and our research holdings via social media or access to our website. More importantly, as is demonstrated in the Reach and Influence section (also Appendix 4), our materials are used to inform research, policy and practice, thus fulfilling the AIC’s purpose to be of use in understanding crime and in developing more effective means of combating and preventing crime.

Finally, an often unsung part of the AIC team is the Information Services team who this year marked the 40th anniversary of the JV Barry Library, opened by the Hon. Mr Justice McClemens on 12 February 1974. In 2013–14, Information Services continued to ensure that the AIC could draw upon a world-class research collection to inform its research work, which could then be made available to the sector in Australia and to interested agencies overseas (such as the UNODC) through the AIC’s strong presence as a repository of criminological research literature. Thus, across all core functions, the AIC continued its role as a leading crime and justice centre for the nation and the justice sector.

Dr Adam Tomison
Director (Chief Executive)
Australian Institute of Criminology

Highlight 1: AIC conferences

As a key component of the AIC’s criminal justice research dissemination, conferences and other events attracted more than 1,100 policymakers, practitioners and researchers from across Australian and internationally during the 2013-14 year.

Images from left: 1. Former Australian Crime Commission Chief Executive John Lawler AM (ISOC Conference, Brisbane, 2013) 2. Justice Peter McClellan AM, Commissioner, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Melbourne, 2013). 3. Dr Adam Tomison, Director, AIC (Co-Convenor of the National Conference on Homicide, Brisbane, 2014). 4. Karyn McCluskey, Director, Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (Crime Prevention conference, Melbourne, 2014)