On 16 October 2023, 9 projects were recognised for their contribution to the prevention of crime and violence in Australian communities.
The winners were presented with their awards at a ceremony in Canberra by Dr Tracey Green, Chief Executive Officer, Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA).
Gold Award winner
Maranguka Integrated Coordinated Case Support Model
Maranguka was Australia’s first operational justice reinvestment initiative, modelling First Nations led self-determination, cultural governance and cross-sector commitment to reducing crime and violence and improving outcomes for the community of Bourke, New South Wales. Maranguka is the working arm of the Bourke Tribal Council, which represents 22 tribal clan groups in Bourke and guides the work of Maranguka on behalf of the community.
Maranguka’s Youth Support Model is a successful community and cross-sector collaboration, taking a holistic, strengths-based approach to keeping young people safe, out of trouble and on positive pathways, connected to community and culture.
Silver Award winners
Transitional Alcohol and Other Drugs Project
COMMUNITY RESTORATIVE CENTRE
The Transitional Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Project at the Community Restorative Centre is a community-based holistic counselling service for people who are leaving prison or who have previously been incarcerated. It provides pre-release and outreach AOD support across Greater Sydney. The project aims to empower individuals to break entrenched cycles of AOD use and incarceration using a culturally competent, trauma-informed and non-judgemental framework. Many of the project’s clients have spent most of their adult lives in prison, and it is often the first therapeutic service that clients have accessed.
Creating Futures Justice Program
WEAVE YOUTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES
Creating Futures was established in response to community needs and to address the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. The program is designed to help and empower Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who have recently been released from prison, providing an opportunity to create a positive future for those involved. Creating Futures is an initiative of Weave Youth and Community Services, a place-based community organisation located on unceded Gadigal and Bidjigal land that has been delivering a range of programs for over 46 years. Weave’s purpose is to empower people to change their lives.
Bronze Award winner
Home Detention Program
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT FOR CORRECTIONAL SERVICES
As part of the ‘10by20 Strategy’ to reduce offender recidivism, South Australia’s Department for Correctional Services introduced legislative reforms to enable court ordered home detention and to expand its existing Home Detention Program. An independent evaluation of the Home Detention Program by University of New South Wales indicated that it diverted individuals from custody and reduced recidivism. It also demonstrated cost offsets for government and positive outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
Gold Award winners
Operation Capesso was a proactive initiative focused on reducing crime among the most serious violent offenders in Southern Metro Melbourne. The project developed a focused deterrence program and identified 1,000 violent offenders with a high risk of future offending. Detectives and Youth Specialist Officers across 13 units conducted unannounced home visits and spoke with the individuals and, when possible, their families.
During the home visits, the engagement team offered the individuals a candid assessment of their risk of future offending and likelihood of apprehension. Officers also provided a letter offering referral services across 12 pathways. The letters and visits were designed to nudge the individuals towards a law-abiding pathway using supportive and non-confrontational language.
An evaluation tracked the treatment and control subjects over 500 days after the program’s implementation, which showed a statistically significant reduction in recidivism (38%). The treatment group also had 16 fewer crimes and 14 fewer victims per 100 offenders compared with the control group. This work demonstrates the potential benefits of proactively engaging with repeat violent offenders and the value of focused deterrence in the Australian context.
Embedded Youth Outreach Program
Victoria Police is leading the Embedded Youth Outreach Program, an evidence-based frontline partnership where police members and youth workers collaborate to deliver after-hours services. By engaging with a young person, assessing their needs and referring them to youth-specific supports, the program reduces the risk of long-term involvement in the criminal justice system. An independent evaluation demonstrated that young people in crisis were connected to services immediately, and youth offending and victimisation were reduced. The benefits of the program outweigh the costs and provide significant long-term savings to the state.
Silver Award winners
The Blue Rose Project
SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE
Under the Blue Rose Project, a sworn police officer works to ensure police are innovative in preventing and responding to crime, antisocial behaviour and missing person occurrences among young people in care. The officer interacts with young people and support agencies daily, building stronger relationships, better intelligence, enhanced accountability, improved prevention and more timely intervention strategies.
First Nations Protective Security Officer Program
QUEENSLAND POLICE SERVICE
In 2019, the Queensland Police Service commenced an innovative pilot project to recruit, train and engage select Palm Island residents as Protective Security Officers, safeguarding state government infrastructure on Palm Island. The project’s motto is ‘Security by community, for community’. Since then, 14 residents have been inducted as Protective Security Officers to serve on Palm Island and two residents serve the community of Yarrabah. It is anticipated the project will establish an additional 113 positions in eight other remote Indigenous communities by 2025.
Bronze Award winner
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE
As the only nationally delivered, law enforcement-led online safety program, ThinkUKnow Australia aims to educate the community about online child sexual exploitation and how to stay safe online. Launched in 2009, the program’s regular updates reflect contemporary trends and issues identified by the Australian Federal Police-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. The scope of the program has expanded to include school presentations and resources for parents, carers and teachers including toolkits, home learning activities, fact sheets and guides. The program is pro-technology and addresses topics including self-generated child abuse material, online grooming and sextortion. It also encourages help-seeking behaviour.