Building public and professional confidence in Queensland’s criminal justice system: The role of sentencing councils.

Judge John Robertson1
1Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, Brisbane, Australia

As newly appointed Chair of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, this presentation will discuss how assuming this role provides an opportunity for the Council to extend its experience and professional skillset. Bringing direct practical knowledge about the sentencing process and a wealth of experienced as a result of involvement in a range of academic and educational endeavours such as authorship of the Queensland Sentencing Manual, as well as  various outreach activities, Judge Robertson will outline his vision for the Council as it extends its reputation within Queensland’s criminal justice system. Judge Robertson will discuss his commitment to diversifying the products of the Council to meet the varied needs of its expanding client base throughout Queensland and more broadly. A number of key future initiatives will be discussed as well as his thoughts on how best the Council can continue its efforts to provide responsive and accurate information about sentencing to all Queenslanders.


Judge Robertson retired from the District Court in 2018, after being the first solicitor to be appointed to that court in 1994. He initially served as the first resident judge in Ipswich, moving to Maroochydore in 2001. He was a judge of the Childrens Court of Queensland throughout his judicial career and President of that court between 1999 and 2002. He was Deputy President of the Queensland Community Corrections Board between 1991 and 1994. Judge Robertson was regional convenor (Queensland) of the National Judicial College of Australia between 2002 and 2007. As a solicitor, he established the Brisbane-based firm JM Robertson & Co in 1978, which changed its name to Robertson O’Gorman in 1981. Throughout his legal career he has lectured and written extensively on criminal law issues including sentencing, juries, restorative justice and advocacy. In 2003 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of QUT for services to the law and legal education. Judge Robertson is the author of the Queensland Sentencing Manual, a practical resource designed for practitioners and students relating to sentencing principles in Queensland.


Measuring public attitudes to sentencing: A focus group approach to assessing public responses toward sentencing for child homicide by Queensland criminal courts.

Ms Marni Manning1, Ms Laura Hidderley1
1Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, Brisbane, Australia

Laura Hidderley – Laura has designed and worked on major quantitative research projects in a variety of government departments. At the Australian Taxation Office, she worked on two surveys simultaneously which involved liaising with stakeholders, sample management, data analysis and report writing. Previously, Laura worked on the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (Footprints in Time), where she managed survey development and data analysis. Laura is a key manager of data on behalf of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council and is well-versed in the obligations associated with the effective and ethical management of sensitive information. Laura has bachelor degrees in Criminology and Criminal Justice and in Behavioural Science and an honours degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

In October 2017, The Honourable Yvette D’Ath MP, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Leader of the House requested the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (the Council) to review ‘the penalties imposed on sentence for criminal offences arising from the death of a child’. The Government recognised community concern about sentences arising from offences involving the death of a child. The broader objectives of the Council’s work are to provide advice to the Attorney-General about:

  • Current penalties imposed on sentence for offence arising from the death of a child and current sentencing practices;
  • Whether the penalties imposed adequately reflect the particular vulnerabilities of these victims;
  • Whether current sentencing considerations are adequate for the purpose of sentencing this cohort of offenders, and identify if specific additional legislative guidance is required;
  • Ways to enhance knowledge and understanding of the community in relation to penalties imposed on sentence for criminal offences arising from the death of a child; and
  • Any legislative or other changes required to ensure the importation of appropriate sentences for criminal offences arising from the death of a child.

While much of the Council’s work was able to be addressed using administrative data, assessing community perceptions about appropriateness and adequacy as well as mechanisms for enhancing community knowledge about sentencing for these offences required a different approach. The Council adopted focus groups for assessing community attitudes. While not representative, this approach provided significant insights into public perceptions, and provided community input into this important public policy issue.


Marni Manning – Marni’s career began in the Queensland Police Service where she was awarded the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy scholarship to research internet-based crime. She has worked at the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and Griffith University, and is currently employed by the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council. Marni also worked in criminal justice in the North Pacific and The Hague. She holds a Bachelor of International Business Relations, Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Leadership and Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She is finalising the Fitzgerald PhD in police investigations.

Serious offending on community correction orders in Victoria

Mr Geoff Fisher1, Ms Cynthia Marwood1
1Sentencing Advisory Council, Melbourne, Australia,

In 2015, the Corrections Act 1986 (Vic) was amended to require the Sentencing Advisory Council to report annually on the number of people convicted of a ‘serious offence’ that was committed while the person was serving a CCO. This obligation was fulfilled by the Council for the first time in May 2018 in the report ‘Serious Offending by People Serving a Community Correction Order: 2016-17’.

This presentation will discuss the report’s key findings, including the number of offenders sentenced in 2016-17 for committing a serious offence while serving a CCO, the most common types of offences committed, and – importantly – the time taken to reoffend.

Alongside the key findings, this presentation will discuss how the Council overcame a number of methodological challenges relating to the linking of data from multiple agencies, which may assist similar research.


Cynthia Marwood is the Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council.  During her time at the Council she has overseen the preparation and publication of over 25 research reports on sentencing related matters.

Restorative Justice Conferencing in an Environmental Offending Context: Applicability of Reintegrative Shaming to Corporations

Mr Mark Hamilton1
1University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

The majority of environmental crime is committed by corporations in breach of an approval (either a license or development consent) to interact with the environment. Traditionally, the courts have dealt with such offending by the imposition of a fine or an order to repair the damage they have done to the environment. It is questionable whether prosecuting corporations makes them truly accountable, especially considering there is limited or no interaction with the victims of such offending. Some environmental offending in New Zealand is processed through a restorative justice conference, which is a dialogue-based approach involving all of the relevant stakeholders to an offence (offender, victim and the community). One of the underlying premises of using restorative justice conferencing to deal with non-environmental crime in New South Wales (Australia) (and indeed elsewhere) is Braithwaite’s theory of “reintegrative shaming”. According to Braithwaite, there are two types of shame – stigmatising shame and reintegrative shame. The former brings about feelings of deviance in the shamed person and is linked to increased crime rates and more reoffending. It is the shame associated with traditional prosecution which can be viewed as a degrading ceremony. Reintegrative shame, on the other hand, is shame directed at the act rather than the offender per se and reinforces social bonds through reintegrative processes and gestures. It is linked with lower crime rates and less reoffending and is associated with restorative justice processes. My PhD investigates whether such conferencing results in better outcomes for victims and makes offenders more accountable than traditional prosecution in the courts. The purpose of this paper, which is based on my current research, is to explore the applicability of reintegrative shaming to a corporation. It queries whether a corporation can be shamed and, if so, what would such shame look like.


BSC LLB (UoW), MEL LLM (USyd), MPP (Macq). The author is currently undertaking his PhD in Law at the University of New South Wales under the joint supervision of Associate Professor Cameron Holley (Faculty of Law) and Dr Jane Bolitho (Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences), exploring the applicability of restorative justice intervention to environmental offending. The author currently teaches in the Bachelor of Criminology program at the University of New South Wales. The author was formerly a solicitor in an environmental and planning law practice in Sydney, and a former tipstaff to a Land and Environment Court of New South Wales judge.


Judicial rebellion? How New Zealand’s three strikes sentencing law has been applied

Nessa Lynch1
1Victoria University Of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

The Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010 introduced a tiered ‘three strikes’ sentencing law to New Zealand. While not as harsh as its Californian cousin, repeat violent offenders now face determinate sentences without parole, or where a second or third striker is convicted of murder – life imprisonment without parole. A coalition government which came to power in late 2017 promised to repeal the law, but a Cabinet paper which would have repealed the law was withdrawn in June 2018 after support from the coalition partner could not be assured. Media reports and polls indicate considerable public support for three strikes.

As part of a larger project considering judicial application of life imprisonment and mandatory or presumptive non-parole periods, this paper considers how New Zealand judges have applied this law, and balanced clear legislative direction with human rights concerns. A small number of potential life without parole cases have come before the courts, with judges consistently refusing to impose the sentence, relying on a legislative exception of ‘manifest injustice’. This exception has also been employed in the sentencing of lesser crimes.

Analysis of the reasoning raises wider questions about the judiciary’s role in moderating legislated penal excess, particularly given the apparent public support for the three strikes measure

Dr Nessa Lynch is an academic at the Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, where she teaches and researches in youth justice, criminal justice and sentencing.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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