The aftermath of violent death – what happens to those bereaved by homicide?

Francesca Bell

Those bereaved by homicide are particularly vulnerable to retraumatisation and complex grief reactions.  In part this is due to the nature of their loss, however, the investigative process, both criminal and coronial, together with the potential impact of media coverage, complicates the bereaved’s ability to deal with their trauma, grieve, accept and create their new normal.  Drawing on the literature, process and policy knowledge, and clinical experience with this population, this paper will outline the journey that those bereaved by homicide make through the system.  It will discuss the supports in place and consider what else could be done to assist this group after violent death.


Francesca holds a PhD in clinical and forensic psychology and endorsement as a clinical psychologist.  In her 16 years as a psychologist, she has been privileged enough to do a variety of work with individuals, families and organisations.  She set up the first site-based psychology service in the Pilbara and ran the WA offices of an employee assistance service provider before joining the WA Department of Justice 5 years ago, to run the Coronial Counselling Service.   She is now working in the Office of the Commissioner for Victims of Crime.  She also teaches traumatology to masters students.

“He dug graves under the house saying that he was going to kill me”: family and domestic violence, and women’s pathways into prison

Dr Mandy Wilson1, Dr Jocelyn Jones2, Professor Tony Butler3

1National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Australia, 2Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 3Justice Health Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW, Sydney, Australia

Despite females comprising a small segment of the Australian prisoner population (8%) the rate of incarceration among women has skyrocketed over the past decade. While the majority of women commit minor non-violent crime, in 2018, the most serious offence/charge for 40% of women in Australian prisons was classified as violent, and a 60% increase in the proportion of women sentenced for violent crimes has been observed since 2008 (ABS, 2018).

Drawing on the ‘Beyond Violence’ research with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women sentenced for violent offences in West Australian prisons, this paper explores the extent and impact of violence on the women’s lives. The majority of incarcerated women are survivors of multiple forms of violence with studies showing much higher rates of childhood abuse, and family and domestic violence (FDV) than among women in the general community. Violence has harmful health and other consequences for women experiencing it, including injury, death, homelessness, mental health issues and trauma. It can also lead to women’s own use of self-defensive or retaliatory force resulting in contact with the criminal justice system.

An increase among women incarcerated for violent offences is contributing to the burgeoning prisoner population. However, advocates argue that in order to halt rising incarceration rates among women, we must stop relying on (and funding) the criminal justice system to protect women and children from male violence. If we are serious about reducing the number of women in prison, simply increasing the capacity of prisons to house victimised women is not the answer.


Dr Mandy Wilson is a Research Fellow and Program Leader for Justice Health at the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), Curtin University. An anthropologist and qualitative researcher, she works on a variety of projects which reflect her interest in Aboriginal and offender health, and in gender and sexuality. In particular, her current involvement includes research and advocacy around justice, substance use issues and violence/fighting, with a particular focus on the experiences of Aboriginal girls and incarcerated women, and gender and sexual minority groups.

Dr Jocelyn Jones is a Nyoongar woman, with Wadjuk, Ballardong and Palyku connections to the land in WA. She holds a PhD and Masters in Applied Epidemiology. Dr Jones has extensive experience working in health and justice, and working in both Aboriginal community controlled health services and in senior management positions in the Department of Health and Corrective Services in Western Australia. She is an early career researcher and in the last 5 years has made significant contributions to Aboriginal health and social wellbeing through her work with Aboriginal prisoners and juvenile detainees

Commissioners for Victims of Crime – Do we need them?

Ms Kati Kraszlan1, Ms Heidi Yates2, Ms Bronwyn Killmier3

1Department Of Justice, Perth, Australian, 2Human Rights Comission, Canberra, Australia, 3Commisioner for Victim Rights, Adelaide, Australia

Victims have traditionally been excluded from having a decision making role in the criminal justice system and they are not always considered to be an equal participant in the system. Victims are diverse and it is this diversity which can result in the difficulties that jurisdictions experience in focusing attention on their specific needs.   In an effort to address the needs of victims a number of jurisdictions have Acts which outline the rights of victims and corresponding victims of crime commissioner.  These commissioners’ are often considered to be uniquely placed to ensure that the rights of victims are upheld and that there is a victim voice in the development of criminal justice and social policy.

This symposium will provide an overview of three different models of a victims of crime commissioner. Western Australia, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have all created a specific commissioner positon, but each is significantly different, with different powers and legislative frameworks. The speakers will discuss the benefits and limitations of their particular model and how they see the future of these positions. During the course of the discussion each commissioner will focus on the need for ongoing research so that victim policy and services is firmly grounded in an  evidence based perspective.


bio to come

Punishing Women in the Community: Rethinking Community Sanctions

Prof Julie Stubbs1

1Faculty of Law UNSW Sydney, ,

Scholars here, as elsewhere, have been preoccupied with mass incarceration to the relative neglect of community sanctions. Community sanctions have increased in scale and intensity but remain poorly understood.  Since the collapse of penal-welfarism, community sanctions have lacked a clear normative framework. Community sanctions have been used in disparate ways and have ‘vacillated’ between control/enforcement and rehabilitation, being influenced by shifting political imperatives and competing understandings. Currently, community-based supervision is being influenced by the heightened focus on managerialism, risk assessment, evidence-based policy and practice, and contested ‘what works’ frameworks. Yet community sanctions are often endorsed as particularly appropriate for women offenders.  This paper draws on current research on community sanctions in Australia to examine the meaning and effects of community sanctions for women offenders.


Julie Stubbs is Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Law and Justice at UNSW.  She is co-author of Justice Reinvestment: Winding Back Imprisonment (with Brown et al 2016) and is currently working on an ARC project Rethinking Community Sanctions.

Social Enterprise and Criminal Justice: Developing a program of support that enhances the reintegration of people with disability

A/Prof Anna Eriksson1

1Monash University, Melbourne , Australia

This paper will discuss the potentials of social enterprise involvement in criminal justice practice and outline a specific initiative that is focused on creating sustainable employment opportunities for people with disability who are existing prisons in Victoria. This initiative sits at the very heart of the intersection between industry, academia, government and the community, and this paper outlines the opportunities and challenges with such an approach.

Associate Professor Anna Eriksson is an international scholar in the areas of comparative penology, restorative justice, and criminal justice reform. She is the author of Contrasts in Punishment: Explaining Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism, Oxford: Routledge, 2013 (with John Pratt), and she held an ARC DECRA between 2012-14 on comparative penology. She has also undertaken several research projects focused on people with acquired brain injury in the criminal justice system, and she aims to combine empirical research with interdisciplinary theoretical scholarship and industry engagements that can lead to changing criminal justice practice.

False Guilty Pleas and Miscarriages of Justice: A Review of Australian Criminal Appeals Against Guilty Plea Convictions

Mrs Lisa Parker1

1University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

This presentation discusses the findings from a study of Australian criminal appeals against guilty plea convictions. This study comprises an analysis of over 230 appellate court decisions where a conviction following a guilty plea has been challenged on the basis that miscarriage of justice has occurred. The aim of this inquiry is to better understand the prevalence and causes of miscarriages of justice arising from guilty pleas (or ‘false guilty pleas’) in Australia.

While Australian appellate courts have traditionally approached attempts to set aside a plea of guilty with ‘caution bordering on circumspection’, this presentation will show that the number of appeals against guilty plea convictions has increased substantially over the last twenty years, as have appeal success rates. This presentation outlines the number of people who have successfully set aside their guilty plea conviction on appeal as well as providing an insight into the underlying causes and circumstances which have led to the entry of impugned guilty pleas. This presentation concludes by considering the effectiveness and limitations of appellate review in identifying and correcting false guilty pleas in Australia.


Lisa Parker is a Lecturer and PhD candidate with the School of Law at the University of South Australia. Her doctoral research examines the legitimacy of the early guilty plea in Australian criminal justice, including its implications for principles of criminal procedure and sentencing.

Police and community attitudes to the policing of cybercrime in Australia

Dr Cassandra Cross1, Associate Professor  Anastasia  Powell2, Professor Thomas Holt3

1Queensland University Of Technology, , , 2RMIT University, , , 3Michigan State University, ,

Cybercrime is a significant problem at both a national and international level. There are estimates that cybercrime is costing the global economy up to USD$600 billion annually. Cybercrime is an umbrella concept that covers a wide variety of offences, from hacking and malware, to fraud and identity theft, to online stalking and harassment.

Police agencies face genuine challenges in responding to cybercrime in a way that satisfies the public. For example, an evaluation of the (former) Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) found that over three quarters (76%) of individuals who lodged a complaint, were dissatisfied with the outcome of their report. In part this speaks to a misalignment in expectations between what the public expect police to do, and what they realistically can do. Regardless, this contributes to anger and frustration on both sides.

This paper presents preliminary findings of a survey conducted across both police and members of the public in Australia, comparing their attitudes and knowledge of several categories of cybercrime. It provides a summary of the similarities and differences across the expectations of police and community members in relation to responding to cybercrime. In particular, it highlights a differential in the perceived risk and threat of victimisation that cybercrime poses to an individual. Consequently, it highlights further areas for investigation into the future.


Dr Cassandra Cross is a Senior Research Fellow, Cybersecurity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), based at Queensland University of Technology. Previously, she worked as a research/policy officer with the Queensland Police Service, where she commenced research on the topic of online fraud. In 2011, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to examine the prevention and support of online fraud victims worldwide. Since taking up her position at QUT in 2012, she has continued her research into online fraud, publishing work across the policing, prevention and victim support aspects. In 2019, she was appointed to the Cybersecurity CRC to further her work on romance fraud victimisation. With colleagues, she has received several highly competitive Criminology Research Grants to explore issues surrounding fraud and cybercrime. She is co-author (with Professor Mark Button) of the book Cyber frauds, scams and their victims published by Routledge in 2017.

Government and Community Collaboration – a place based approach to Youth Crime Prevention in Victoria

Ms Caroline Henwood1, Ms Elizabeth Wall1

1Department Of Justice And Community Safety, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

In 2016 the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) in Victoria worked with local communities to design projects for the Youth Crime Prevention Grants (YCPG) program. The YCPG provided funding for community-led initiatives that address risk and protective factors that contribute to offending behaviour.  The program was designed to focus on a highly vulnerable cohort. It aimed particularly to prevent offending amongst young people (10-24 years) who have had, or are at risk of having, contact with the criminal justice system.

The YCPG was designed to ensure that local communities contributed to the project design to build a collaborative, partnership model of service delivery. The Community Crime Prevention Unit at DJCS facilitated a new approach to designing eight of the projects via a series of workshops in each local government area.  Individual projects were developed flexibly to be responsive to locally-identified needs of young people. The YCPG projects have been implemented over the last two years, supported by DJCS staff located centrally and in each region.

This presentation discusses the findings from the mid-term evaluation of the YCPG. Highlights and challenges will be summarised, along with how partnerships have worked in practice. The presentation will also focus on:

  • the use of partnerships through project implementation,
  • the intersection of government agencies with community organisations,
  • emerging outcomes for young people in the program,
  • how designing for place can influence project design, partnerships, and outcomes.

Bio to come

Playing for change: Community justice innovation through design thinking prototypes

A/Prof Scott Beattie1, Prof Stephen Colbran1

1Cq University, Melbourne, Australia

In rapidly changing environments, community justice organisations often struggle to respond to new challenges, needing to implement new services, systems and procedures without the resources required for full stress-testing.   This paper argues that simulations, developed using design thinking methods, can play an important role in implementing change in a format that is accessible for community organisations.

Design thinking provides an accessible, human-centred approach to managing change in a through an approach than prioritises empathy and iterative development of innovation.    Design thinking places importance on the use of prototypes to test new systems and hypothetical simulations are one way to explore new practices and to stress-test procedures in a low-risk environment.  Using simulation design theory and ‘serious games’ exemplars this paper outlines the foundations of designing scenarios that create space of innovation.

Human-moderated simulations are an accessible and affordable method of prototyping that are amenable to feedback, rapid iteration and short cycles of development.   This accessibility also provides a nexus for engagement, within organisations and out to the community, in order to provide feedback into the design process and to crowd-source ideas and critical perspectives.

This paper will explore an example change scenario and provide guidance on how this may be adapted to a range of different community justice situations.  Design guidelines will allow participants to implement their own simulations and develop the use of this method in practice.


Associate Professor Scott Beattie has a career spanning both law and criminology and is presently building connections across these disciplines at CQ University.  He is strongly committed to community justice as a site of innovation and change in the field of criminal justice. Along with CQ University Law Dean Stephen Colbran he is working in the field of design thinking as a twenty first century skill for lawyers and justice professionals.

Scott is the head of program for the criminology degrees offered by CQ University, programs that place particular focus on community justice and design thinking methodology.

Emotional and behavioural difficulties in justice involved youth in Australia

Dr Jocelyn Jones1

1University Of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia, 2University on New South Wales/Kirby Institute, Kensington, Australia, 3 The University of Queensland, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, Ultimo, Australia

Background: Justice involved youth experience mental health issues at a higher rate compared to young people without justice involvement. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of mental disorder among young people (14-17 year olds) involved in the justice system living in the community.

Methods: Four hundred and sixty five young people participated in the survey between 2016 and 2018 in Western Australia and Queensland. The Strengths and Difficulty Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to measure emotional and behavioural problems in the cohort of young people and was compared with young people in the community who were surveyed as part of the Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Results: Of the 465 young people surveyed (276 boys and 169 girls), 44% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. The proportion of young people with abnormal scores on the SDQ was highest on the conduct problems scale followed by the hyperactivity scale (37.8% and 26.9% ‘abnormal’ respectively). Consistently higher rates of emotional and behavioural difficulties were observed in justice involved young people compared with the general population on all subscales of the SDQ.

Conclusion: The proportion of young people scoring ‘abnormal’ on the total difficulties score indicates a substantial risk of clinically significant problems for this cohort. The elevated levels of emotional and behavioural issues in justice involved young people highlights a need for early childhood interventions and access to services for this vulnerable group.


Dr Jocelyn Jones identifies as a Nyoongar woman and holds a Masters in Applied Epidemiology and PhD. Dr Jones has extensive experience working in health and justice, and working in both Aboriginal community controlled health services and in senior management positions in the Department of Health. She is an early career researcher and in the last 5 years has made significant contributions to Aboriginal health and social well being through her work with Aboriginal prisoners and juvenile justice.



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