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Brief: August 2009

ISSN 1836-8026
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, August 2009

Focus on Indigenous youth at crime and justice conference

Indigenous young people, crime and justice conference

Exploring ways of reducing the numbers of Indigenous young people coming into contact with the criminal justice system will be a key focus of the AIC's upcoming Sydney conference.

The Australian Institute of Criminology, in partnership with the NSW Commission for Children and Young People, the NSW Attorney General's Department and the Australian Human Rights Commission, will host the Indigenous Young People, Crime and Justice Conference on 31 August and 1 September 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Parramatta.

The conference aims to identify and share research and practice most relevant to addressing the problem of overrepresentation of Indigenous young people in the criminal justice system. This problem has been identifi ed as one of Australia's most signifi cant social problems and the latest report on juveniles in detention released by the Institute shows Indigenous young people are 21 times more likely to be detained than non-Indigenous young people.

The conference has a major focus on Indigenous children and young people who interact with the criminal justice system early or repeatedly, have complex needs and require targeted responses from the justice, education, child protection, family support and cultural services systems. Themes and questions to be raised at the conference include:

  • What are the facts, trends and future outlooks relevant to Indigenous children and young people who interact with the criminal justice system early and/or repeatedly?
  • What are the drivers of the high rates of contact with the criminal justice system?
  • What are the needs of these young people and the capacities of their networks to address their problems?

Special focus will be placed on the presentation of latest research and successful practice in the area, analysis of evidence-based policies, and programs aimed at tackling problems.

A group of expert practitioners, academics and stakeholders in the area will be presenting at the conference, including:

  • Chris Cunneen, Professor and NewSouth Global Chair in Criminology in the Faculty of Law of the University of New South Wales
  • Gerard Neesham, Chief Executive of the Clontarf Foundation Anna Stewart, Associate Professor and Head of School, Griffi th School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffi th University
  • Brendan Thomas, Assistant Director General, Crime Prevention and Community Programs, NSW Attorney General's Department
  • Scott Wilson, Director of the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner
  • The NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People

Become an AIC Visiting Fellow

The Australian Institute of Criminology invites scholars to apply to spend up to 3-6 months in residence participating in its Visiting Fellows program.

Candidates with research expertise in criminology, finance, economics, law or social sciences who are interested in applying their skills to research which directly informs public policy are welcome to apply for positions as AIC Visiting Fellows.

As an AIC Visiting Fellow you will work on a research project that will culminate in at least one peer-reviewed publication. Your time at the Institute will involve collaborative work with other key research staff, active participation as an AIC staff member and presenting public occasional research seminars to AIC stakeholders and guests.

Previous Visiting Fellows have included Michael Levi, Professor of Criminology at Cardiff University; and Paul Ekblom, Professor and Co-Director of the University of the Arts London Research Centre on Design Against Crime.

You must have an established career in research and a PhD, or equivalent experience in public policy research. Criteria for selection include a relevant proposed topic related to criminology in the public policy context. Particular areas of interest to the Institute may include e-security, federal crime and justice, white collar or environmental crime, though any criminological topics will be considered.

The Institute values the wide variety of backgrounds and experiences of our research staff. Key selection criteria include excellence and diversity of experience, backgrounds and viewpoints. A commitment to the translation of research into policy and practice will be highly regarded.

To apply, please visit the AIC website at information/fellows.aspx


Director Adam Tomison

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the second issue of brief, the newsletter of the Australian Institute of Criminology, and my first as the Director of the Institute.

The Institute has a significant record of achievement in producing quality research and policy advice for the criminal justice sector over a period of more than three decades. I hope to ensure the AIC remains a centre for excellence that is well-placed to continue to meet the needs of governments and their criminal justice agencies, as well as making a signifi cant contribution to academic knowledge.

In the coming months I look forward to meeting with the Institute's stakeholders to talk about our strategic direction, to enhance existing partnerships and to create new opportunities for collaboration on research and analysis.

The Institute's ability to produce quality, policy-relevant research is generally based on timely access to criminal justice agencies' crime datasets and it is here that I am particularly looking forward to exploring opportunities to develop new collaborations. Research on federal criminal offences is a growing area of interest and the Institute has recently begun a project to determine the current set of federal offences in preparation for more in-depth analyses and the potential development of a national dataset.

Another key element of the Institute's work program is to ensure the effective communication and dissemination of our research to a wider Australian and international audience in order to reinforce our position as Australia's knowledge centre on crime and justice. This will be complemented by a continued focus on the translation of research outcomes into the evidence base to ensure the application of our research into policy and practice.

In my view it is vital that the Institute's work has a direct impact on operational criminal justice policy and practice, as much as it contributes to the development of academic knowledge. I hope the activities and research highlighted in this edition of brief provides ample evidence for this.

Director, Adam Tomison

AIC Director appointed

AIC Director appointed Dr Adam M Tomison is the new Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Dr Tomison is internationally recognised as an expert in the fi eld of child abuse, the prevention of child abuse and other family violence, and the development and operation of child protection and family support systems.

An experienced public service executive, over the past two decades Adam has worked with a range of government, non-government organisations and advocacy groups focused on child protection and violence prevention across Australia. He has also made contributions to training, policy and program development for a number of international agencies and a number of other countries including China, the UK and Canada.

Born in Geelong, Victoria in 1965, Adam studied psychology and computer science at Deakin University before completing a PhD at Monash University with a focus on investigating professional case management decision making with suspected child abuse and neglect cases.

As a senior researcher at the Australian Institute of Family Studies from 1995 to 2004, he led the development of Australia's National Child Protection Clearinghouse. Under his leadership, the Clearinghouse became a centre for excellence with an international reputation in the field of child abuse prevention and child protection.

Adam also developed and managed the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault; and a national action research program supporting the evaluation of community development projects in 'high need' communities as part of the Australian Government's Stronger Families Learning Exchange (now the Communities and Families Clearinghouse).

Since 2004, Adam has held a number of senior executive positions in the Northern Territory Department of Health and Families (DHF) and was also the Department's inaugural Principal Child Protection Advisor.

In 2006-07 he was the Director of Policy and Research for the 2007 'Little Children are Sacred' NT Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, writing much of the fi nal report. Returning to DHF, he was acting co-Director of the Northern Territory's Family and Children's Services (FACS) branch for most of 2007 and 2008, including acting as Director for the entire FACS program for over six months.

In 2009 he accepted a position to create and lead a new $1.4m child protection research and training program being developed at the Menzies School of Health Research (Darwin), a position he vacated to take up his appointment at the Australian Institute of Criminology.

A frequent presenter at conferences, Adam has regularly run educational and training seminars for professionals and the wider community. He remains active in the non-government sector, currently serving as a Board Director of the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) and as Chair of the Organizing Committee for the 2009 ISPCAN Asia-Pacifi c Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect (APCCAN 09) which will be held in Perth in November 2009.

Former AIC Acting Director Tony Marks returns to his role as General Manager, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Offi cer. Other senior staff include Dr Judy Putt, General Manager Research; Janet Smith, Information Services Manager; Brian Russell, Senior Finance Officer; and Communications Manager Scott Kelleher.

new board members

The AIC Board of Management has welcomed two new members

John Lawler Elizabeth Kelly

John Lawler APM

Mr John Lawler APM is a career law enforcement officer, currently serving as Chief Executive Offi cer of the Australian Crime Commission, having previously served for 29 years with the Australian Federal Police at the community policing, national and international levels. He has extensive experience in a wide range of law enforcement disciplines in Australia and overseas.

Elizabeth Kelly

Elizabeth Kelly holds a Masters of Law from the University of NSW and Bachelors of Law and Economics from the University of Sydney. She also has extensive career experience in private enterprise, state and Federal Government as well as criminal law, law enforcement, industrial relations and governance. Elizabeth is currently the First Assistant Secretary, Criminal Justice Division with the Attorney-General's Department.

They join existing Board members Chairman Richard Fox, Emeritus Professor at Monash University; Ingrid Haythorpe, Executive Director of Policy, Planning and Legislation in the South Australian Attorney-General's Department; Penny Armytage, Secretary of the Victorian Department of Justice; Norman Reaburn, Director of Legal Aid in Tasmania; and AIC Director Dr Adam Tomison.

National research on public perceptions of crime and justice

Criminal justice researchers and policymakers the world over are aware of the disparity between the public view and the reality of how much recorded crime there is and what happens to offenders after they are charged. What Australians think about crime and justice: results from the 2007 Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA), a report recently released by the Australian Institute of Criminology, provides the most recent evidence of this mismatch.

The AuSSA is a biennial mailout survey that provides data on key questions relating to Australians' social attitudes and behaviours. Several questions repeated from previous AuSSA surveys provide a picture of trends over time, but some new questions have been commissioned for 2007 by the AIC.

AuSSA 2007 consisted of a crosssectional mailout survey completed by 8,133 adults from all Australian states and territories. Three versions of the survey were fi elded, with fi nal response rates ranging from 39 to 42 percent. To produce Australian estimates the data have been weighted by education level to correct for differences between survey respondents and the general population.

The report presents key findings on perceptions of crime, fear of crime, administration of justice, and changes in attitudes over time. Approximately one in eight adult Australians (12.9%) view crime, drugs or terrorism as the most important issue facing Australia today. A large majority of the public have inaccurate views about the occurrence of crime and the severity of sentencing.

Consistent with previous Australian and international research, the Australian public perceives crime to be increasing when it isn't. Respondents overestimated the proportion of crime that involves violence and underestimated the proportion of charged persons who go on to be convicted and imprisoned.

The majority of Australians are 'not very' worried about being a victim of a range of crimes. However, this still leaves a large majority who are 'fairly' or 'very' worried. On average, females reported higher rates of fear than males, with fear increasing as perceptions of disorder increased. A major new fear is concern about identity theft and credit card fraud.

There is wide variation in views as to the effectiveness of the government in controlling crime in Australia. About one-third each of people believe their government to be successful, unsuccessful or neither in controlling crime. The majority of Australians express quite a lot ofconfidence in the police to solve crime (74%), to respond quickly to crime (54.3%) and to act fairly (73.7%), despite one-quarter of the population believing there was a lot of police corruption in their state or territory.

Public support for, or approval of, the death penalty has consistently declined since 1996 and is now well below the 50 percent mark (43.5%) for the third sample in a row, the fi rst being collected in 2002. The proportion of Australians who agree that stiffer sentences are needed has gradually declined from a peak of 84.8 percent in 1987 to 71.7 percent in 2007.

To read the full report visit http://www.aic. series/ rpp/101-120/rpp101.aspx. Roberts L & Indermaur D 2009. What Australians think about crime and justice: results from the 2007 Survey of Social Attitudes. Research and Public Policy Series 101. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology

chart: perceptions of crime trends over the past tow years (%)

Labour trafficking forum held at AIC

Key government agencies, non-governmental organisations and Australian and international academics met at the Australian Institute of Criminology in June to discuss the research challenges involved with non-sex industry labour trafficking.

The AIC forum was held on 19 June to coincide with a similar forum at Parliament House in Canberra the day before which concentrated on policy issues.

The personal stories of victims were shared during the forum by the agencies involved, with speakers including Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination from the Australian Human Rights Commission; Fiona David, research expert from the AIC; Deborah Itzkowic from Job Watch Inc; Jenny Stanger, Supervisor of Samaritan Accommodation from The Salvation Army and Jennifer Burn, Director of the Anti-Slavery Project, University of Technology Sydney.

A panel of representatives from agencies including the Australian Federal Police, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Office of the Workplace Ombudsman and AusAID were also on hand to facilitate further discussion as well as outline their responses to the issue of labour trafficking with a particular focus on prevention, prosecution and victim support.

The forum highlighted key issues including the various definitions of labour trafficking, the broader context within which labour trafficking is likely to occur, potential indicators of labour trafficking and the impact this crime has on its victims.

Concerns about the vulnerability of 457 visa holders becoming victims of exploitation were discussed, as well as how recent reforms to the system will address these issues. Other topics explored during the forum included awareness and access to information on labour trafficking, the rights of overseas workers and cultural barriers met when dealing with victims and perpetrators. All the day’s sessions emphasized the need for future collaboration of relevant agencies in responding to these labour trafficking issues.

Coming events

Occasional Seminars

Adam Graycar

5 August—Canberra

Corruption and control

Professor Adam Graycar, Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers and Director of the Rutgers Institute on Corruption Studies. His presentation will examine some types of corruption and their contexts and how the study of crime prevention can be used in combating corruption. 12–1 pm at the Australian Institute of Criminology.

20 August—Canberra

Meredith Edwards

The use of research in policy making: demand and supply challenges

Professor Meredith Edwards AM, Emeritus Professor, University of Canberra and Senior Consultant with Courage Partners will assess the challenges faced by using research in policy making. 12.30–1.30 pm at the Australian Institute of Criminology.


31 August – 1 September—Crowne Plaza Hotel, Parramatta

Indigenous young people, crime and justice conference 2009

2–4 September—Quality Hotel, Wellington,
New Zealand

Pacific trafficking in persons forum 2009

The forum will focus on the Pacific region and its government responses to trafficking in persons. Representatives from human rights, immigration, customs and industry bodies will discuss issues including capacity, human rights, labour, child and sex trafficking.

10–11 September—Hilton Hotel, Adelaide

Drug Use Monitoring in Australia Conference 2009

This conference will provide an opportunity for individuals and relevant stakeholders to engage in current crime and drug related issues. These include drug and alcohol trends, health and drugs and criminal justice interventions. This is the first time the conference will be open to the public.

research publications

Recent research publications from the AIC

AICrime reduction matters

Policing in and around licensed premises | In light of the significant strain that alcohol intoxication places on law enforcement agencies in Australia, attention has been focused on the role of police in reducing the burden of alcohol-related problems. There is a growing interest in the capacity of police to prevent, and not just respond to, alcohol-related problems.

Strategies for preventing armed robbery | Over the past 10 years, a range of crime prevention strategies have been developed and employed to reduce armed robbery. The main aims of these strategies have been to secure commercial premises to deter armed robbery attempts and to reduce the possible rewards from armed robbery. Combinations of different methods have been used, but they primarily involve techniques based on situational crime prevention.

Integrated approaches to alcohol-related antisocial behaviour and violence | Discusses conclusions from a roundtable held in Victoria to develop strategies to curb antisocial behaviour, with a focus on violence and public safety—particularly alcohol-related incidents.

Crime facts info sheets

Most serious offence by Indigenous status

Top 10 computer security tools used by Australian businesses

Industry sector and the prevalence of computer security incidents against Australian businesses

Computer security incidents experienced by Australian businesses

Child protection investigations

Assault causing death

Victims of armed robbery by location

Government spending on justice services

Transnational crime brief

Labour trafficking: prosecutions and other proceedings | Three defendants in two cases in Australia have been charged and prosecuted for ‘slavery’ or ‘trafficking in persons’ under the Criminal Code (Cth), in circumstances where the crimes have allegedly occurred in contexts other than the sex industry.

Monitoring reports

Juveniles in detention in Australia, 1981–2007 | The Juveniles in Detention Monitoring Program was established at the Australian Institute of Criminology to provide an overview of juveniles in detention in Australia and contribute to knowledge about the rates and numbers of Indigenous young people placed into detention. This report provides a statistical overview for the financial year 2006–07, as well as reporting changes over time. For the first time, the report provides information on young people sentenced to detention in the children’s courts.

Armed robbery in Australia: 2006 National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program annual report | The National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program was established to fill an information gap on trends and patterns of armed robbery in Australia, especially in relation to changes over time in the use of specific weapons. The 2006 annual report is the fourth publication since the Australian Institute of Criminology began monitoring this offence in 2003. Building on previous analyses, this report provides an overview of the 7,560 victims of armed robbery and the situations, including the locations, which made them vulnerable to victimisation.

Deaths in custody in Australia: National Deaths in Custody Program 2007 | The National Deaths in Custody Program (NDICP) is responsible for monitoring the extent and nature of deaths that have occurred in prison, police and juvenile custody since 1980. The Australian Institute of Criminology has coordinated the NDICP since its establishment in 1992; the result of a recommendation by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody the previous year. The overall number of recorded deaths, and the rate per relevant population, has declined significantly in prisons since 1997. However, there has been no statistically significant change in the overall number of police custody deaths since 1990.

Research and public policy series

Online child grooming: a literature review on the misuse of social networking sites for grooming children for sexual offences | The grooming
of children for sexual purposes has been facilitated by online technologies, particularly social networking sites. This report describes the nature and extent of how new technologies are being exploited by offenders and the legislative and non-legislative responses being used to combat this growing problem.

The Australian Business Assessment of Computer User Security: a national survey | The Australian Business Assessment of Computer User Security survey is a nationwide assessment of the prevalence and nature of computer security incidents experienced by Australian businesses. This report presents the findings of the survey, which may be used by businesses in Australia to assess the effectiveness of their information technology security measures.

What Australians think about crime and justice: results from the 2007 Survey of Social Attitudes | The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes is a biennial survey that provides data on key questions relating to Australia’s social attitudes and behaviours over time. This report explores the differences between the public view and the reality of how much recorded crime there is and of what happens to offenders after they are charged. The results are a valuable measure of public attitudes and perceptions of crime and the criminal justice system.

Women, drug use and crime: findings from the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program | The Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program makes a quarterly assessment of drug use by police detainees around Australia. This report finds differences in drug use between male and female detainees and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous female detainees, highlighting different patterns of drug usage and dependencies and of associated most serious offences leading to arrest.

Technical and background papers

The Australian Business Assessment of Computer User Security (ABACUS) survey: methodology report | This report covers the methodology of the ABACUS survey, including the survey instrument, sample design and selection, main data collection, and response rates.

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice

Private security in Australia: trends and key characteristics | The use of private security in crime prevention and law enforcement activities has grown to a point where security personnel outnumber police by more than two-to-one. This paper examines the size and scope of the security industry both locally and internationally.

Intimate partner abuse of women in a Central Queensland mining region | Perceptions about the mining industry and the rapid growth of mining communities in Australia has led to concerns that these communities are prone to higher rates of intimate partner violence than the general community. This paper provides a summary of research that examined the nature and prevalence of intimate partner abuse of women in Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin region.

Suspended sentences in Tasmania: key research findings | This paper provides an overview of the use of suspended sentences in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, as well as an analysis of reconviction and breach rates for those placed on such an order.

Intrafamilial adolescent sex offenders: psychological profile and treatment | Sexual abuse of children by other children or adolescents constitutes approximately 40 to 90 percent of sexual offending against children. This paper examines the nature and causes of adolescent intrafamilial sex offending and which treatment approaches are likely to be successful.

Service station armed robbery in Australia | Using the Australian Institute of Criminology’s National Armed Robbery Monitoring Program data, this paper xamines the incidence of armed robbery at service stations, profiles the offenders involved and offers crime prevention recommendations.

Alcohol and homicide in Australia | International research suggests alcohol consumption increases the number of homicides and that homicides involving alcohol differ significantly to non alcohol-related homicides. The current study sought to build on the limited Australian research on alcohol-related homicide by examining solved homicides recorded in the National Homicide Monitoring Program over a six-year period.

Responding to online child sexual grooming: an industry perspective | As the internet and other forms of information and communications technology advances, opportunities for child sexual offenders and other financially-motivated cybercriminals to sexually exploit children will increase. Official statistics here and overseas indicate the number of investigations and prosecutions remain small but are increasing rapidly. This paper discusses non-legislative measures to address the issue of online child exploitation, particularly child grooming.

Factors affecting perceived criminality: evidence from victims of assault | Recent research shows that not all assaults described in victimisation surveys are considered to be crimes by the victims. This paper investigates this issue and puts forward findings which have implications for the role surveys play in measuring crime.

How to order AIC publications

All recent publications are available for free download from the AIC website. Or complete a publications order form from

Australia's Criminology Research Council

The Criminology Research Council (CRC) was established by the Criminology Research Act 1971 and is an integral
part of a state, territory and Australian Government-funded approach to research on criminological issues in Australia today. The principal objectives of the CRC are to support research that is relevant to current and future public policy issues, foster
the undertaking of quality criminological research and ensure that CRC supported research is disseminated effectively.

The CRC provides a forum for Attorneys-General and their representatives from each Australian jurisdiction to assess needs in the field of research and to fund research projects. The Council consists of:

  • Commonwealth : Elizabeth Kelly, First Assistant Secretary, Criminal Justice Division, Attorney General's Department
  • NSW : Laurie Glanfield AM (Chairman), Director-General, Attorney-General's Department
  • Victoria : Penny Armytage, Secretary, Department of Justice
  • Queensland : Terrence Ryan, Director, Strategic Policy, Department of Justice and Attorney-General
  • Western Australia : Cheryl Gwilliam, Director-General, Department of the Attorney General
  • South Australia : Ingrid Haythorpe, Executive Director, Policy, Planning & Legislation Division, Attorney-General's Department
  • Tasmania : Norman Reaburn, Director, Legal Aid Commission
  • Northern Territory : Richard Coates, Director, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Australian Capital Territory : Stephen Goggs, Chief Executive, Department
    of Justice and Community Safety

CRC Research Fellow, Dr Lorana Bartels

The CRC funds a Research Fellow based at the AIC to undertake research. The position is currently held by Dr Lorana Bartels, who recently organised a roundtable with senior judicial officers and courts administrators to discuss the challenges of mainstreaming specialty courts. She has prepared two reports for the Council on this issue and presented a paper on the topic at the Third Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference in Melbourne. Dr Bartels has also conducted research on sex offenders and published a Research in Practice publication entitled The status of laws on outlaw motorcycle gangs in Australia.

The Council provides a fee to the AIC to provide web, publishing, financial, secretariat and administrative services, including internal auditing of the Council's activities and  participation in the AIC's internal governance structure.

Research grants

The Council funded the following projects in 2008–09:

  • Oral language competence and interpersonal violence: exploring links in incarcerated young males—Dr Pamela Snow and Prof Martine Powell, Monash University
  • Developing successful diversionary schemes for youth from remote Aboriginal communities—Dr Kate Senior, Dr Richard Chenhall, Mr William Ivory and Dr Tricia Nagel, Menzies School of Health Research
  • Sudanese refugees' experiences with the Queensland criminal justice system—Dr Garry Coventry, Dr Glenn Dawes, Dr Stephen Moston and Dr Darren Palmer, James Cook University
  • ID scanners in night-time economy: social sorting or social order?—Dr Darren Palmer, Dr Peter Miller
    and Dr Ian Warren, Deakin University

The Council also awarded a consultancy mapping the national picture of correctional offender treatment to Ms Karen Heseltine, Associate Professor Andrew Day and Professor Rick Sarre.

Applications for the 2009 round of CRC grants close on 21 August 2009. Grants are considered if they are public-policy relevant, have practical application, contribute to the understanding, prevention or correction of criminal behaviour and will make a substantial and original contribution to criminological knowledge.

Further details of the CRC’s research projects and grants are available at