Responding to the growing complexity of forensic clients with AOD concerns in the community

Ms Sophie Aitken1, Ms Skye Mackay1
1Caraniche, Melbourne, Australia

This presentation examines the development of the KickStart therapeutic group program targeting substance-related health concerns and criminogenic needs of moderate to high risk male community-based offenders. Reforms to sentencing, in combination with changes in drug use patterns, have given rise to significant growth in community corrections offender numbers, including those who require specialist and relatively intensive treatment interventions. While specialised criminogenic AOD programs are available in prison, prior to the development of KickStart there were no group-based AOD programs available for this group in the community.

Results from the KickStart Program indicated that at program completion, participants demonstrated greater awareness and understanding of their feelings and how these related to their offending behaviour and were more prepared to discuss emotional regulation, mental health and goal setting.  Participants also showed reductions in their order breach rate (from 25% at commencement to under 10%) and in urinanalysis breaches (from 30% to 15%). Participants also reported significant improvements in their physical health, psychological health, and social relationships over the course of their involvement in the program.


Sophie Aitken has a diverse range of experience in public, private, academic and not-for-profit sectors in roles spanning psychology, research & evaluation, policy and program development, implementation and consultancy. She has extensive experience with forensic clients in community based corrections and as a forensic psychologist, as well as working in early intervention in family services. She has provided consultancy support to agencies interested in implementing evidence-based practices and conducting program evaluations.

Skye is a psychologist with more than 10 years experience with Caraniche working as a registered psychologist and supervisor.  Skye has provided AOD group and individual treatment with offenders in both the community and prison-based settings and has experience in counselling and assessment in a range of issues.  Skye was the senior clinician at the Melbourne Assessment Prison, providing AOD treatment to remanded prisoners and ensuring all prisoners entering the prison received both prison related, and release related, harm information.  Skye is the manager of the Behaviour Change programs team, overseeing the delivery of group treatment on behalf of Corrections Victoria across the state.

Substance Use as a Strategy for Managing Stress for Homeless Women

Dr Helena Menih1, Dr  Natalie Thomas1
1University Of New England, Armidale, Australia

Previous research demonstrates that homelessness tends to be very stressful for women, yet limited studies explore how homeless women manage such stress. Based on ethnographic data collected with homeless women in Brisbane, this paper explores the qualitative dimensions of participants’ methods for coping with stress in their lives. Homeless women in this research experienced primary homelessness and were limited in their ability to engage in diversionary activities. Consequently, these women’s stories demonstrate the complexity and uniqueness of coping strategies that homeless women use to manage their lives. The women’s stories portray a struggle with stress, and for some there was a feeling that there was ‘no way out’ of their situation. While the majority of these women endured this feeling, for others, they used various additional types of coping to manage this feeling. This paper qualitatively explores these coping strategies, focusing particularly on the role of substance use in these women’s lives as a strategy for managing stress, and the affect that this coping strategy had on their lives.


Dr Menih is an early career researcher, who is interested in the areas of gender, social justice, family violence, and homelessness. She holds a Masters with Honours and a PhD from Griffith University and is currently a lecturer in Criminology at the University of New England.

The Communities Against Substance Misuse Project

Siobhan Allen1, Peter Lunney1, Kierryn Graf1
1Queensland Police Service, Brisbane, Australia

The Communities Against Substance Misuse Project, known as Project CASM, sought to provide a diversionary and protective approach to reduce youth volatile substance misuse (VSM) in Brisbane, through retailer engagement, street outreach, and police upskilling. The overarching goal for Project CASM is to reduce the prevalence of offending behaviours associated with VSM. The success of this project in achieving this goal was measured through three short-term objectives. These are to educate and train staff at retail outlets about preventing VSM, to facilitate effective street outreach responses to hotspots of youth group activity at high risk locations, and to up-skill first response police in the recording of VSM incidents. Collectively, the retailer engagement, street outreach, and officer upskilling may have reduced the number of VSM-related incidents in Brisbane. The retailer engagement, which comprised of police officer store visits and a separate police presentation to retailers, was positive. Retailers demonstrated an increase in their understanding of how to recognise and respond to issues regarding VSM for their stores, as well as an increased confidence in the police. The sentiment provided by a non-government organisation regarding the street outreach was positive, however, the effectiveness of the street outreach was not evident. The upskilling of officers through repeated reminders regarding recording VSM occurrences demonstrated improvement over time. Based on limitations to meet all short-term objectives, consideration and recommendations are provided to be considered for the long-term objectives. A new approach is presented that demonstrates one way that the future of Project CASM may operate.

Siobhan Allen is a Senior Research Officer in the Research and Evaluation Unit at the Queensland Police Service. She is also completing her PhD at Griffith University exploring the policing of youth at mass events. She has worked in a research capacity at the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), Griffith Criminology Institute (GCI), Griffith University, and the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, Queensland (CARRS-Q). Her research publications and interests include policing, youth offending, procedural justice, and graduated driver licensing.

Peter Lunney is a Senior Investigator in the Brisbane City Child Protection and Investigation Unit (CPIU) at the Queensland Police Service. He has been a member of the Queensland Police Service for over 17 years. Most of his service has been in an investigative role in predominantly indigenous and rural areas including the Kingaroy CPIU and as the Officer in Charge of the Murgon Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB). His policing interests include indigenous youth justice and developing child protection engagement for indigenous families.

‘For now we see through a glass, darkly’ Using police data to scrutinise the use, effect and effectiveness of Australia’s police-imposed patron banning provisions

Clare Farmer1
1Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Geelong, Australia

Each jurisdiction collates police-imposed banning data and manages its access. This presentation examines the data that is available to assess what it reveals about the use of the provisions, and to establish the extent to which Australian jurisdictions monitor their own data. Overall, while patterns of use can be discerned and limited findings are evident, the particular effect or effectiveness of banning cannot be isolated from the data. Despite the enthusiasm with which police banning provisions have been implemented, there is little evidence of its proactive monitoring. Police banning powers in Australia are currently subject to minimal oversight and no meaningful scrutiny. This has wider implications for individual rights, community safety, and the ongoing development of measures to address issues of alcohol-related violence and disorder.

Dr Clare Farmer is a Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University. Her research interests, and associated publications, include sentencing policy and practice, discretionary powers to punish, and the balance between individual rights and broader community expectations/needs. Police-imposed patron banning provisions operate across Australia to manage and minimise harms arising from alcohol-related disorderly behaviours. Their implementation is framed around presumptions of need, effect and effectiveness. However, there has been little scrutiny of the ways in which police banning mechanisms are used, and no meaningful analysis of their effect.


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