Innovative justice interventions: The Centre for Innovative Justice team discuss their current work

Ms Nareeda Lewers1, Adjunct Professor  Rob Hulls1, Ms Elena Campbell1, Mr Stan Winford1, Ms Jessica  Richter1, Ms Anna Howard1, Ms Tallace  Bissett1
1Centre For Innovative Justice, RMIT University , Melbourne , Australia

The CIJ is a research and reform body attached to RMIT University. The CIJ’s objective is to develop, drive and expand the capacity of the justice system to meet and adapt to the needs of its diverse users. The CIJ meets this objective by conducting rigorous research which focuses on having impact – taking our research findings, most of which involve direct engagement with service users, and using them to develop innovative and workable solutions.

In this roundtable the CIJ will share insights from its current projects, which include interventions with perpetrators of family violence, including adolescents who use violence in the home; the experience of people with acquired brain injury in the criminal justice system; and restorative justice practices responding to serious crime in the adult jurisdiction.  The CIJ will invite participants in the roundtable to engage in a robust discussion of the issues that emerge from this work.


Nareeda coordinates the CIJ’s Restorative Justice Conferencing Pilot Program.  Nareeda is an experienced criminal lawyer who has worked extensively in solution-focused courts.  She has a research background in family law.

Rob [roundtable chair] was a Victorian Attorney-General from 1999 to 2010. As Attorney he introduced a series of innovative reforms to the justice system that focussed on therapeutic jurisprudence and restorative justice, including the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, the Drug Court, the Assessment and Referral Court, Koori Courts and specialist family violence courts.

Elena is a policy lawyer and writer, with a background in social justice reform. She was the author of the report on family violence Opportunities for Early Intervention; Bringing Perpetrators of family violence into view.

Stan is a practising lawyer who is particularly interested in exploring how the justice system can have a positive impact on people’s lives through restorative and therapeutic approaches to justice, as well as the development of justice systems designed and informed by the experiences of those who use them.

Jessica is an experienced criminal lawyer who has worked largely with people with cognitive impairments.  Jessica’s research interests include the experience of people with disabilities in the justice system, and adolescent violence in the home.

Anna coordinates the Enabling Justice Project and oversees student placement opportunities through the CIJ. Anna has a background as a lawyer with a social justice focus spanning native title, personal injury and community law.

Tallace is an experienced criminal lawyer. Tallace is also an accomplished legal and social science researcher, currently completing a Doctoral degree examining the policing of young African men in Victoria.

State Crime and Colonialism

Dr Nesam McMillan1, A/Prof. Jennifer Balint1, Dr  Michael Grewcock2
1Criminology, University of Melbourne , Melbourne, Australia, 2Faculty of Law, UNSW, Sydney, Australia

This roundtable explores the relationships between state crime and colonialism. This includes the historical experiences of European colonialism and empire; settler colonialism and its ongoing impacts on Indigenous peoples; and the continuities of colonial violence. It follows the publication of a Special Issue on this topic in State Crime journal (November 2018), and will involve both authors involved in this as well as those engaged in work in this area.


Jennifer Balint is Associate Professor in Socio-Legal Studies in the Discipline of Criminology, School of Social and Political Sciences at The University of Melbourne, Australia. Her work considers the constitutive role of law, with a focus on state crime and means of accountability. She is a co-researcher on the Minutes of Evidence Project, has been a visiting fellow at the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London and is a co-founder of the Global Network on Justice. Conflict. Responsibility, a public platform for collaborative engagement between academics, practitioners and community in contemporary justice issues in Australia and the world.

Nesam McMillan is a Lecturer in Global Criminology in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on the broader ethical significance of mass harm. In particular, it charts and interrogates how and with what effects events of mass harm are culturally understood and practically addressed (through social, legal and political means) on the global stage. Nesam is also a co-founder of the Global Network on Justice. Conflict. Responsibility, a public platform for collaborative engagement between academics, practitioners and community in contemporary justice issues in Australia and the world.

Michael Grewcock is a lecturer in criminology and criminal law at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales. Prior to obtaining a PhD at UNSW Mike worked as a solicitor in London for 13 years. His most recent book is Border Crimes: Australia’s War on Illicit Migrants.


Policing the crisis? African youth, crime, media and policing in Melbourne

A/Prof. Leanne Weber1, Dr Kathryn Benier1, Dr Jarrett Blaustein1, Dr Diana Johns2, Dr  Sara Maher1, A/Prof Rebecca Wickes1
1Monash University, Clayton, Australia, 2University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia

Four decades ago legendary British cultural theorist Stuart Hall and colleagues published their landmark text Policing the Crisis. Through a series of theoretically eclectic analyses they charted the creation of a racialised and politicised media discourse about ‘mugging’ that legitimated a wave of intensive policing directed against a new generation of Black British citizens. At the time of writing, the upcoming Victorian state election promises to reignite similarly racialised debates about ‘African gangs’ and emotionally charged crimes such as ‘home invasions’ that resonate with this classic analysis.

In this session we draw inspiration from this landmark inquiry, while not attempting to recreate it. The panel, consisting of Monash Criminology and Melbourne University academics, their community research partners and members of affected communities, will give a series of very short presentations highlighting the media construction of a ‘crisis’ of African youth crime in Melbourne and the impacts of this racialised and politicised discourse on criminal justice policies, policing practice and community dynamics. Our intention is not to theorise or present a grand narrative, but rather to open for critical discussion a series of urgent and practical concerns that threaten community peace and cohesion.

The session will centre around three ‘collaborative conversations’, each of which will begin with brief comments from researchers and members of affected communities designed to spark a critical and participatory discussion. The conversation topics are (1) crime and the media (2) crime and community perceptions (3) crime and policing, all with a focus on ‘African’ communities in Melbourne.


Kathryn Benier is a Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University. Her research focus is urban criminology and the neighbourhood ecology of crime. In particular, Kathryn’s work focuses on hate crime and the impact of immigration and ethnic diversity on social relationships, cohesion and sense of belonging over time. She also has a research interest in family and domestic violence, with a strong focus on the geospatial distribution of offences and the consequences of victimisation. Kathryn has an interest in quantitative methodology, and extending new statistical techniques in other fields into criminological research.

Jarrett Blaustein is a lecturer in Criminology in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University and the Major Convener for Criminology. His research currently focuses on four areas: Crime, development and security in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Global mobility of crime control policies; Secondary harm mitigation in the context of international drug law enforcement; Examining the ‘life-cycle’ of youth-related public disorder in Victoria, Australia. Jarrett’s sole-authored book titled Speaking Truths to Power: Policy Ethnography and Police Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press.

Diana Johns joined the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne as lecturer in criminology in 2016. Her book, Being and Becoming an Ex-Prisoner, based on her PhD research, was published in 2017 by Routledge as part of the International Series on Desistance and Rehabilitation.  Her (mainly qualitative) research interests range from restorative and therapeutic approaches to justice to vulnerable people’s experience of criminal justice and legal processes. Diana’s current research is focused on South Sudanese young people’s experience of demonising media narratives since Moomba 2016.

Sara Maher is an adjunct Research Fellow at Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre (MMIC). Her research focuses on the post-settlement lives of African migrant women, addressing transnationalism and belonging in Australia. She is a Churchill Fellow, leads the South Sudan Diaspora Impacts project, (Cambridge, Juba & Monash Universities), addressing the diaspora relationship between Melbourne and Juba and has recently worked on the Victoria Police African Taskforce Implementation Plan. Her work is grounded in a previous career in the refugee settlement sector in Melbourne.

Leanne Weber is Associate Professor of Criminology, co-Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University. She researches border control and migration policing using criminological and human rights frameworks. Her books include The Routledge International Handbook on Criminology and Human Rights, 2017 (with Elaine Fishwick and Marinella Marmo), Policing Non-Citizens, 2013 (Routledge), Stop and Search: Police Power in Global Context, 2013 (Routledge, with Ben Bowling) and Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier, 2011 (Palgrave, with Sharon Pickering).

Rebecca Wickes is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Sciences at Monash University where she is the Director of the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre and the convener of the criminology program. She is also the Chief Investigator of the Australian Community Capacity Study (ACCS), a multi-million, multi-site, longitudinal study of 298 urban neighbourhoods in Victoria and Queensland. Her research focuses on the spatial concentration of social problems with a particular focus on how physical and demographic changes in urban communities influence social cohesion, the informal regulation of crime, crime and victimisation.

Crime and Justice in Digital Society

Prof. Murray Lee1, Associate Professor Anastasia Powell2, Dr Robin Cameron2, Dr Carolyn McKay1, Dr Greg Stratton2
1University Of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia, 2RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

As digital technologies become progressively embedded into our everyday lives, so too are human-technological interactions embedded into everyday crimes, as well as in cultural representations and justice responses to crime. This panel explores the ways in which criminology is increasingly, if belatedly, extending its analysis into the digital realm. Using a new book series as a platform, the round table discusses a range of these emergent fields of study and sets a challenge for scholars to involve themselves in digital criminology.

Themes explored include; Thinking Digital, Acting Global – understanding the analytical, conceptual and territorial borders we need to overcome to comprehend crime and technology; Rape Culture in Digital Society – discussing how in the age of seduction communities, incels, image-based abuse and networked misogyny, we are to understand and challenge rape culture in digital society?;  Simulated Policing – exploring the impact of digital technology in policing and our understanding of police; The Digital Prisoner – How audio visual links are now prison technologies as they are melded into the infrastructure of prisons, and firmly embedded into penal policy, offender management and legal procedure.

This roundtable will take the form of short introductions to each theme followed by and inclusive discussion between speakers and attendees aimed at stimulating further discussion around what has become a key research theme in contemporary criminology.


Robin Cameron is a Lecturer in Justice and Legal Studies at RMIT University. He teaches subjects on global crime, terrorism, human rights and digital criminology. Robin’s current research focuses on masculinity and extremist violence in urban and online spaces, and the effects on community resilience. He has also conducted research into 9/11, the war on terror and security responses to other crises such as disasters and protests, as well as the broader study of crime and justice in digital society. He has published on these topics and explored them in the co-authored book Digital Criminology (2018, Routledge).

Murray Lee is Professor in Criminology at the University of Sydney. Murray’s research focuses on representations and perceptions of crime and how these intersect with processes of criminalisation. This includes the increasing mediatization of crime and crime control and the development of new forms of media and communication that create new crime risks and anxieties, but also new forms of surveillance, control and governance. His current research interests involve fear of crime, police body-worn cameras, policing and the media, ‘sexting’ and young people and crime prevention. Murray’s most recent book is The Routledge International Handbook on Fear of Crime (2018).

Carolyn McKay is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Sydney Law School. Her research examines the impacts of audio visual technologies (video links) on prisoners’ court appearance and access to justice. Carolyn’s research interests include technologies in justice, prisons and prisoners, visual criminology, surveillance, policing and interdisciplinary research methodologies. In 2013, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Spain. Carolyn has previously consulted on anti-dumping trade disputes and indirect taxation in both Sydney and Tokyo and worked in digital media.

Anastasia Powell is Associate Professor in Criminology at RMIT University.  Her research examines the intersections of gendered violence, technology, justice and digital culture. She has published widely in these fields including four books (both sole and co-authored): Sex, Power & Consent (2010,), Domestic Violence: Australian Public Policy (2012), Sexual Violence in a Digital Age (2017), and Digital Criminology (2018); and two edited collections.  Anastasia’s recent research has investigated technology-facilitated sexual violence, image-based sexual abuse (known colloquially as ‘revenge pornography’), online justice-seeking or ‘digilantism’, and the broader study of crime and justice in digital society (with Drs Cameron and Stratton).

Greg Stratton is a Lecturer in Justice & Legal Studies at RMIT University and is also the manager of The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative at RMIT University. His research interests focus on wrongful conviction, state crime, media and crime, and identity in the digital age. Greg’s recent research has investigated the traditional and social media’s influence on wrongful conviction, public perceptions of criminality, and the broader study of crime and justice in digital society. He has published articles on these topics in criminology, media, and cultural studies journals and explored them in the book Digital Criminology (2018, Routledge).


Wrongful conviction research in Australia: Strategies and approaches to understanding the unknown and overlooked

G Stratton1, R Dioso-Villa2, J Tudor-Owen3, J Fuller2, K Hail-Jares2, J MacFarlane1
1Rmit University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 3Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there were 139 exonerations of innocent people in the United States during 2017, bringing the total number of exonerations to 2161 since 1989. Where Australia has a history of wrongful conviction, notably Gene Gibson’s recent successful appeal, exonerations occur on a less frequent basis. Where research in the United States has explored miscarriages of justice from multi-disciplinary perspectives,  due to numerous limitations much of the existing Australian research has focused upon legal issues and case study analysis of successful appeals. This roundtable proposes the need for criminological approaches to wrongful conviction that can foster a stronger understanding of the problem and how research may contribute to those seeking justice in response to criminal justice system error. Panellists will discuss the barriers that they have encountered in conducting innovative research in the area, need for rigorous research on wrongful conviction, and raise potential solutions and alternatives to explore the topic in an Australian context. The discussion will focus on what methodologies have been useful in examining wrongful conviction and translating research into practice or policy reform. Panellists will discuss how various approaches including experimental design, existing case studies, theoretical development, aggregate data, and the voices of the wrongfully accused provide a base for Australian research to garner a better understanding of the issues.

Dr Greg Stratton is a Lecturer in Justice & Legal Studies at RMIT University and is also the manager of The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative at RMIT University. Dr Stratton’s research interests focus on miscarriages of justice has been focused on marginalisation and criminal justice error, public perceptions, media representations, and advancing criminological understandings of wrongful conviction.  In pursuing these interests under a broader social justice agenda, Greg also supervises students interns also undertake research projects that intersect with these and other research interests including digital criminology, language and the law, and parole reform.

Dr. Dioso-Villa is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. Her research investigates the sociology of forensic science looking at the admissibility and evaluation of forensic sciences as expert testimony and the application of organisational theory in the study of wrongful convictions. Her work has appeared in the Stanford Law Review, Law and Policy, Law Probability and Risk and the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. She has received grants and fellowships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the American Society of Criminology and the Canadian Foundation of University Women.

Jacqueline Fuller is a current PhD candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University in Queensland. Her PhD project will investigate how innocent persons come into contact with the criminal justice system and how these cases are exposed as such, as well as the factors that influence whether a wrongful conviction cases is exonerated through the appellate system or through an alternate pathway. Previously, Jacqueline’s honours project examined the role of Australian royal commissions within the context of wrongful convictions.

Dr Katie Hail-Jares is a Post Doctorate Research Fellow at the Griffith Criminology Institute. She is an epidemiological criminologist whose work focuses on how criminalizing behavior impacts personal and community health. Wrongful convictions can be studied within a medical model of systemic failure. Her work has appeared in Justice Quarterly, PLoS One, Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependency, and the Iowa Law Review. She is the lead editor of Challenging Perspectives on Street-Based Sex Work (Temple University Press).

Joseph MacFarlane is a current PhD Candidate at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. His research area is focused on the discretionary use of interpreters in the justice system and how the failure to recognise and cater for linguistic diversity creates an environment for miscarriages of justice to arise. Joseph’s previous Masters research has focused on how managerialist concerns that emphasise the efficient and cost-effective processing of criminal cases serve to undermine the possibility of both procedural fairness for vulnerable people and accurate outcomes in criminal cases. Joseph has previously worked with RMIT’s Innocence Initiative investigating claims of factual innocence.



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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