The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) manages the annual Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA) every year, with the Director of the AIC chairing the Selection Board. On 29 November 2018, 12 projects were recognised at an award ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra. The Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, announced the winners.
ACVPA police winners
Queensland Police Service Gold Coast Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce, Queensland— Gold Award winner
The Gold Coast Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce has, since January 2016, demonstrated Queensland Police Service’s innovation and community leadership. The taskforce has developed new relationships, programs, practices and strategies which have substantially improved safety for our most vulnerable. High level professional services are meeting the needs and expectations of victims of violence, and homicides have been prevented. Collaborative adaptive working relationships thrive on trust and understanding with the prevention benefits spilling into all areas relating to the treatment of complex social harm and crime. The new approaches, programs and partnerships are providing great public and social value now and for the future.
This is a multi-faceted, evidence-based response to family and domestic violence. The initiative addresses an issue of national concern and reduces serious impacts on victims. The nomination was backed by substantial supporting information that clearly articulates the need for a focused and multi-faceted response to the problem of family and domestic violence and gives evidence of its success, including statistics indicating a downward trend in violent incidents.
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Speak Up, Be Strong, Be Heard, Queensland— Silver Award winner
The Speak Up, Be Strong, Be Heard project was developed in response to the Preventing youth sexual violence and abuse in West Cairns and Aurukun report. The project developed an ethos of child protection by increasing community awareness of youth sexual violence and abuse, strengthening reporting obligations and improving the overarching agency interventions in the community.
This is a unique and effective approach to dealing with the problem of youth sexual violence and abuse in Cape York communities. The program engages locally in a culturally appropriate and inclusive way that responds to local Indigenous needs. While the program is yet to be properly evaluated, there is evidence that reporting has substantially increased, in a way that is likely to be at least partly attributable to this program.
Connected Women, Queensland—Silver Award winner
Connected Women is a unique, vibrant nine-week program led by women from the Queensland Police Service. It is designed especially for newly arrived young Muslim refugee women. The Islamic Women’s Association of Australia works in partnership with senior female police mentors to empower these young women and educate them to reduce violence and increase reporting, accessibility, safety and the human rights of participants.
This is a very practical approach to connecting police with vulnerable women who may have experienced trauma, who may be victims of family violence and other offences, and who may not trust police. The program has the potential to empower these women in ways that help them stay free of violent victimisation. The nomination includes materials that demonstrate the initiative’s effectiveness in action and summarise the findings of an independent evaluation.
Stay Safe in our State: Advice for international students, New South Wales—Bronze Award winner
The original project ‘Getting Along in Wollongong’ aimed to create a video which provides information on safety and crime prevention accessible to an audience of international students at the University of Wollongong (UOW). It aimed to increase public safety while reducing fear of crime by increasing viewers’ awareness of safety issues and teaching them how to access assistance. The objectives of sustainability and education were accomplished by developing a video available for viewing online, at local services and through the UOW’s orientation program for new students. Since its local implementation in 2016, it has been recognised by the NSW Police Force and NSW Department of Industry as the key resource promoted to reach students across New South Wales and internationally.
The video contains a well-conceived and executed set of crime prevention and safety messages targeting international students at the University of Wollongong. International students are known to be vulnerable to opportunistic crime, including robbery, theft and assault. The video has been made accessible in a number of common languages and in small, topical units. While the messages are partly specific to Wollongong, they are largely generic and could be adapted to other districts with some replacement footage, or the video re-shot with similar content for other jurisdictions.
South West District Blue Light Shearing Project, Queensland—Bronze Award winner
Approximately three years ago, Police Liaison Officer Laurie Bateman started a shearing program, teaching shearing skills to young vulnerable people in the Cunnamulla community to curb and prevent offending behaviour. From these humble beginnings, PLO Bateman has secured funding and formalised a partnership with Blue Light Queensland to establish the South West Blue Light Shearing Project.
In a time when jobs are difficult to find, the shearing project has provided much needed skills and hope to young people in the south west, affording them work in one of the few local industries that has future growth prospects. The program has already diverted many young people away from offending and violent behaviour and given them hope for the future.
This is a good example of a local initiative in a community that has a range of socio-economic challenges. The project has the potential to contribute to positive outcomes in employment, wellbeing and perhaps crime prevention. The initiative is cleverly targeted to the needs of the local area and has been well received by participants.
ACVPA community winners
Out Teach Mobile Education, Tasmania— Gold Award winner
Out Teach Mobile Education employs a specialist teacher to work one-on-one with students aged 10 to 18 years who are in contact with the justice system and disengaged from learning. Using a mobile classroom in outdoor and informal settings allows engagement with the hardest-to-reach learners, building a pathway to mainstream educational or vocational re-engagement.
The teacher collaborates with youth workers from Save the Children’s youth justice mentoring program to reduce youth crime by increasing protective factors of wellbeing and education. Over three years, 80 percent of participants did not return to court and 89 percent did not return to or enter detention.
This is a simple but valuable initiative that addresses education deficit, a key social determinant of disadvantage and involvement with the criminal justice system. The outcomes and impacts described are impressive. The initiative is very well grounded and appears effective from the perspective of the young people it targets. It gains strength from being part of the holistic approach taken by Save the Children in Tasmania.
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Together We Can, Victoria—Gold Award winner
Over the past three years, Family Life, in partnership with Cardinia Shire, Victoria Police, the University of Melbourne and the Cardinia community, has developed and implemented a large scale, community-based social change initiative: Together We Can. This innovative collective impact model aims to prevent family violence.
This project, the first of its kind in Australia, has shown promising outcomes, with a 16 percent reduction in reported incidents of family violence over the life of the project. The project is now being embedded in the local community to sustain efforts to change the trajectory of family violence rates in Cardinia Shire.
This initiative aims to address the problem of family and domestic violence through a whole-of-community approach. This project is special and innovative for its local government centred approach to mobilising the community. The initiative shows considerable merit in the range of activities it has organised.
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Mac River Residential Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Service, New South Wales—Silver Award winner
Mission Australia has been delivering the Mac River Residential Drug and Alcohol Centre since 2011. The service is a partnership between Mission Australia, NSW Juvenile Justice, NSW Department of Education, and NSW Department of Health. It provides a 12-week high-quality residential drug and alcohol treatment to 13–18 year old young people from rural NSW. Young people who engage in the service receive intensive therapeutic treatment to address offending behaviours and substance use, participate in formal schooling, develop life skills, receive social and emotional support, participate in family therapy and are supported to engage with their culture.
This very sound youth justice initiative uses solid evidence-based approaches. The evidence supplied with the nomination suggests the intervention is producing positive results, as part of a broader solution to well-established offending behaviours and circumstances. The program is responsive to the needs of its client group and has been in operation for several years.
Day for Daniel, Queensland—Silver Award winner
Day for Daniel is a national day of action and is Australia’s largest child safety awareness raising day. The theme of the day is to wear red and educate children about personal safety. The overall goal is to prevent children from experiencing abuse or, if they have, to help them to identify this and talk to an adult who can help them.
This is a long-standing and high profile national event that, on the evidence, has very widespread reach and recognition. Evidence suggests it is effective in raising understanding and awareness in a way that can help to prevent serious and violent forms of crime that are rare but devastating. While it is only one day per year, its reach means many school age children will be exposed to the messages repeatedly across their school life, aiding retention of the information.
Seeds of Affinity: Pathways for Women, Inc, South Australia—Bronze Award winner
Seeds of Affinity supports and empowers women both during their time in prison and upon their release. Once released, women connect with each other by meeting twice weekly to make skin care products and gourmet treats, and by sharing their stories over cooking and sharing a meal together. They create and provide toiletries packs for women in prison and advocate for the rights of and resources for criminalised women and their children. Most importantly, women who attend Seeds of Affinity community workshops feel a sense of belonging, solidarity and self-worth during the difficult transition of leaving prison and re-entering the community. It can transform women’s lives.
This program meets an important set of needs for women leaving prison. There has been a huge growth in the number of women in prison in South Australia (almost totally on remand) and any initiative that can help reduce this growth is valuable. The model of positive engagement and peer support is likely to be effective. What makes this program special is the tiny amount of money it functions on, being almost totally reliant on volunteers. The quality of the evidence provided, and the attempt at self-evaluation, are good given the very limited funding available.
Mates on the Move and Class Mates training projects, New South Wales—Bronze Award winner
Mates on the Move is a social enterprise initiative of the Prisoners’ Aid Association of New South Wales. Mates on the Move provides work experience and employment for people leaving prison. It funds training projects to train those leaving prison and have them job ready. Mates on the Move provides commercial removal, moving and storage services to the community, and is aiming to sustain not only the removal business, but the training projects. The training includes Certificate II in Warehouse Operations, Certificate III in Furniture Removals, forklift licences, work health and safety blue cards and life skills training (such as cooking skills). Mates on the Move also provides ongoing employment for ex-prisoners.
This is an innovative and practical initiative with a strong potential to contribute to reducing the growth of imprisonment. Both the social enterprise and the vocational training parts of the initiative address key contributors to reoffending, with the provision of accredited training and direct pathways to employment being very important elements. The retention and completion rates are impressive. It appears to be the first combined vocational training and employment pathway of its kind in Australia.
Whole of School Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence Program, Tasmania—Bronze Award winner
The project aims to address the underlying causes of sexual assault, thereby reducing its incidence and impacts. It promotes respectful sexual behaviours among young people and enhances the capacity of Tasmanian secondary school communities to respond to and prevent sexual assault.
The Sexual Assault Support Service collaborates with schools to implement a unique, whole-of-school education program that meets the needs of the particular school group. The organisation works broadly with school management and teachers to ensure effective collaboration, engagement and ownership of the training program.
This initiative addresses an ongoing need by improving knowledge and awareness of healthy relationships among young people at a critical time in their development. A self-evaluation indicates it is effective in meeting this need, which should help to contribute to reducing physically and sexually violent behaviour in relationships.