Radical Rambos: Analysing the motives behind Australia’s teenage supporters of Daesh

Miss Margarita Dimaksyan1
1Federation University, , Australia

In Australia there have been dozens of arrests and charges laid against people who have committed terrorism offences, including individuals already sentenced and others awaiting trials. Increasingly exploited by terrorist organisations is a version of hegemonic masculinity, whereby fighters are promised respect and heroism amongst their peers by way of enacting typically masculine traits such as violence, dominance and risk taking behaviours. For disenfranchised young men, such an opportunity to be celebrated as a hero may be a particularly empowering motive.

This paper examines a number of young Australians who have been convicted of terrorism offences in recent years, focusing on the role Westernised masculine tropes play in the identity construction of those convicted of terrorist offences within Australia. This paper argues that these young men increasingly embody hyper masculine and ultra-violent norms, evidenced through their discussions of their planned attacks with language inspired by violent action movies and video games. The air of machismo is reminiscent of pop culture figures such as John Rambo, demonstrating that Westernised ideals of masculinity are persistent and adaptable to Islamist ideologies. This paper will use evidence presented at trial to examine the congruence between planned terrorist action strategies and the narrative arc of first-person-shooter video games and violent action movies. Understanding how Western discourses of masculinity influence radicalised individuals is important to understanding the context of radicalisation and terrorism in Australia.


Margarita is a PhD candidate at Federation University Australia. Her research on radicalisation and terrorism in an Australian context is centered on an analysis of 180 Australian residents or citizens who were radicalised or involved in terrorism between 2001 and 2016. This paper will examine a number of cases from the wider sample of 180 individuals.

Preventing Youth Crime at a Whole-of-Community Level by Measuring and Responding to the Social and Emotional Needs of Children

Tara McGee1,Kate Freiberg1, Ross Homel1, Sara Branch1, Jacqueline Homel1 
Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, Australia

The quality of the lives of children living in disadvantaged areas, as reported by children themselves, is seldom measured.  Rumble’s Quest is a fun game for tablets and computers that provides a robust and reliable measure of social-emotional wellbeing for children aged 6 to 12 years. Developed by Kate Freiberg and InVision Media with the support of a range of government and non-government partners, the game is one tool in a sophisticated integrated platform that gives children a voice in a way that maximises the chances that their expressed needs will be addressed by schools, families and community agencies, guided by reliable data. Rumble’s Quest is suitable for use in non-clinical settings with large numbers of children, has been tested for validity and reliability with 8,000 Queensland children, and is being progressively implemented in NSW and Queensland primary schools in 2018. The tool measures factors strongly related to educational success, involvement in antisocial behavior and youth crime, and positive youth development. These include attachment to school; supportive home-family relationships; social and emotional confidence; self-regulation and prosocial behaviour; impulse control; focused attention; and working memory. We describe the development and properties of Rumble’s Quest, present data on the distribution of child wellbeing in Queensland, and describe its use at the suburb (SA2) level, combined with data from the Australian Early Development Census, to measure community child risk and protective factors as a tool for setting goals for community action and the provision of evidence-based services matched to need.


Tara Renae McGee is a developmental and life-course criminologist who’s interested in the development and prevention of antisocial behaviour. She is currently President of ANZSOC and Co-editor of the Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology.

A family stress-proximal process model for understanding the effects of close family member imprisonment on adolescents’ alcohol use

Kirsten Besemer1, Jacqui Homel1, Susan Dennison1, Joyce Arditti2
Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, Australia,2Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, USA

Research in the US found that the imprisonment of a parent increased children’s risk of heavy alcohol use in adolescence. However, there is currently no research evidence regarding the mechanisms through which these effects may be transmitted. In addition, research has focused only on children affected by the imprisonment of a parent, excluding children affected by the imprisonment of other family members, such as older siblings. Using a new 16-year nationally representative dataset of affected Australian families, we are now able to address these gaps in knowledge.  We use Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) to test a Family Stress-Proximal Process (FSPP) model to understand the effects of close family imprisonment on adolescent alcohol use. Through this model, we explore how psychological and proximal relational processes in families may influence children’s long-term outcomes after a family member is imprisoned.


Kirsten Besemer is a lecturer at Griffith University. Her research uses representative national Australian data sources to identify short- and long-term effects of imprisonment on prisoners’ family members.

Linked Lives: Antisocial Behaviour Across Three Generations

Tara McGee1, Jake Najman3, William Bor3
1Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, Australia, 3The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

This study aims to assess antisocial behaviour transmitted across 3 generations, to document the predictors of this intergenerational transmission and to describe how antisocial behaviour is changing over generations.

The Mater-University Study of Pregnancy began as a study of 7223 mother-child pairs of children born at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane from 1981-1984. The mothers (generation one (G1) and their children (G2) have been followed up from the pre-natal period until when the G2 children were 30 years old. The data for this research come from the most recent wave of data collection; the children of the children, or generation three (G3).

Only a minority of G3 respondents who have experienced ASB in their parents (G2) or grandparents (G1) will themselves manifest antisocial behaviour. We propose that ASB will be more common in families with a pattern (in G1 and G2) of marital conflict and/or marital breakdown. There is a causal pathway which links marital instability to specific patterns of parenting (eg. reduced vigilance and supervision of child) which, in turn, is associated with increased levels of antisocial behaviour in offspring (G3). A series of analyses will result in a combined model that will quantify the residual association between marital discord and G3 anti-social behaviour, with potential modification by parenting variables. Appropriate confounders e.g. grandparental/parental age, education, occupation, will be used.


Tara Renae McGee is a developmental and life-course criminologist who’s interested in the development and prevention of antisocial behaviour. She is currently President of ANZSOC and Co-editor of the Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology.

Does Family Support Reduce Youth Crime in Socially Disadvantaged Communities?

Ross Homel1, Kate Freiberg1, Jacqueline Homel1, Sara Branch1, Daniela Vasco1, Samantha Low-Choy1
1Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, Australia,

The long-term effects on children of routine family support in disadvantaged communities are not known. Pathways to Prevention (2002-2011) was a comprehensive early prevention initiative centred on family support, delivered by Mission Australia in partnership with Griffith University and seven schools in a disadvantaged area of Brisbane, Australia. We report effects on child social-emotional wellbeing and classroom behaviour (Grades 1-7), and on offending (10-16 years).

Offending data for 615 children who were preschoolers in 2002-3, were obtained from Youth Justice Queensland. Risk factors were measured by survey at the transition to high school for 58% of these children. Teachers used a validated instrument to assess classroom behavior annually. Children reported their own wellbeing using an interactive computer game, developed by the researchers, which yields four psychometrically valid measures. Using coarsened exact matching, subsamples of children whose parents received Pathways support between Grades 1 and 7 were matched with non-Pathways children on: baseline scores on the dependent variables; age; gender; ethnicity; and child-reported level of adversity. Changes in behavior and wellbeing in intervention and control groups were compared using Bayesian multilevel modeling. Because offender numbers were low (6%), tree models fit using recursive partitioning helped explore effects on offending.

Pathways reduced crime for most ethnic groups through improved classroom behavior, social-emotional confidence, and supportive home relationships, but did not improve attachment to school. Family support has many benefits for disadvantaged children and parents, but to maximize impact on youth crime it should incorporate evidence-based activities that specifically address key risk factors.


Ross Homel has a special interest in improving the lives of children and families in disadvantaged communities. He analyses crime, violence, and related social problems, and develops and tests evidence-based ways of preventing these problems.

The nature and long term consequences of early-onset offending: a study of two NSW birth cohorts

Dr Jason L. Payne1
1Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

In a recent study of the NSW crime decline and the criminal trajectories of two NSW birth cohorts (1984 and 1994), it was shown that the population prevalence of criminal justice contact to age 21 had halved in 10 years. These dramatic changes were exhibited in almost all estimates of crime, with the exception that the prevalence of early-onset offending remained unchanged. In this presentation, we are motivated to explore the apparent stagnation of early-onset offending by examining the similarities and differences between the two cohorts in terms of offence and longer-term offending profiles.  The implications for early intervention and prevention are discussed.


Dr Jason Payne is a Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University. Jason is the undergraduate convenor of the ANU’s criminology program.

Developing Diversionary Pathways for Indigenous Youth with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): A Three Community Study in Western Australia

Prof. Harry Blagg1, Dr Tamara Tulich2
1University of Western Australia , Crawley, Australia, 2University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia

This paper reports on a study undertaken in three Indigenous communities in the west Kimberley region of Western Australia (WA) intended to develop diversionary strategies for young people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Rates of FASD in the west Kimberley were comparable to high risk populations internationally and there were concerns that youths with FASD were being enmeshed in the justice system. Further, under WA law they were at risk of being held in indefinite detention if found unfit to plea. Besides recommending legislative reform we also urge a ‘decolonizing’ approach, meaning maximum diversion into community ‘owned’ and managed structures and processes, able to offer a culturally secure environment for stabilizing children with FASD. The study calls for reform of police diversionary mechanisms and the creation of what we call mobile ‘needs focused’ courts, offering  comprehensive screening rapid entry into on-country, programs and strong Aboriginal community control.


Harry specializes in Indigenous people and criminal justice, young people and crime, family and domestic violence, crime prevention, diversionary strategies, policing and restorative justice.  He has over 20 years experience in conducting high level research with Aboriginal people across Australia (including urban, rural and remote locations) on justice related issues. From 2001/2006 Harry was Research Director of the West Australian Law Reform Commission’s reference: Aboriginal Customary Laws.  He has developed a specific focus on remote communities – particularly in the Kimberly Region of WA and the Northern Territory – and has been involved in research, consultancy and policy development around community justice, FASD, night patrols, men and women’s safe places, youth justice and family violence.

Overlap between youth justice supervision and alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia

Miss Arianne Schlumpp1
1Australian Institute Of Health And Welfare (AIHW), Bruce, Canberra, Australia

This presentation discusses findings from a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) linkage report, Overlap between youth justice supervision and alcohol and other drug treatment services. Through the utilisation of data linkage techniques, this report examines young people aged 10–17 who were under youth justice supervision, and had received an alcohol and other drug treatment service, between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2016. It identifies the key characteristics of young people involved in both systems in Australia, the type of youth justice supervision received, their principal drugs of concern, number of treatment episodes and makes comparisons to the treatment characteristics of the age-equivalent Australian population.


Arianne Schlumpp is a senior analyst and project manager at Australia’s national agency for health and community services statistics, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Arianne manages the collection of youth justice data from states and territories, utilises linkage techniques to measure the overlap of clients between sectors, and has experience in health statistics.

Project RADAR- a counselling and treatment program for young people with hidden drug abuse problems and drug-related criminal offences

Mr Man Ho, Wilson Chan1, Ms Siu Chui, Bob Lee1, Ms Tsz Ching Pang1, Mr  Siu Kei  Leung1, Ms Suk Fun Lai1, Professor  Fu Keung , Daniel  Wong2
1The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Youth Crime Prevention Centre, , 2University of Hong Kong , Department of Social Work and Social Administration ,

Initiated by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) Youth Crime Prevention Center since 2016, Project RADAR is a territory-wide and evidence-based project that adopts Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) framework to provide crisis intervention, integrated assessment, individual counselling, and positive life skills training to young people, aged between 10 and 35, with hidden drug abuse problems and drug-related criminal offences. It also provides support services to their family members to enhance their mental well-being and problem-solving capacities. Through multi-disciplinary collaboration, a regular referral mechanism was established with police, hospitals, social welfare department, and other law enforcement agencies.

Project RADAR also collaborated with the University of Hong Kong to develop an assessment tool to assess the youths’ needs and risk level of committing drug-related offences and conduct an evaluation on the effectiveness of the intervention approach. Fifty-four youths with drug abuse and/or drug-related criminal offences were randomly assigned into two conditions, with 25 in the experimental condition (i.e. CBT) and 29 in the control arm (i.e. treatment as usual). Assessments were administered before and after the intervention. A series of ANCOVAs showed that participants in the CBT condition reported significantly less drug-related recidivism, lower frequencies of drug misuse, lower levels of pro-criminal attitudes and higher levels of cognitive-behavioural relapse coping strategies at post-intervention than those in the control condition. Therefore, the intervention approach launched by Project RADAR appear to be effective in decreasing drug abuse behaviours and drug-related criminal recidivism among Chinese youths in Hong Kong.


Mr Chan Man-ho, Wilson, B.S.W (Hons), Postgraduate Dip. in Psychology, MSocS in Criminology, Accredited Mediator (Hong Kong/China), is currently Supervisor at The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Hong Kong, SAR. He is leading youth at-risk services and having 20 years’ experience on working with young offender, drug addict and delinquent youth. Wilson has a strong linkage with government and non-government organizations in Hong Kong, he is serving as member of Action Committee Against Narcotics for giving advises on anti-drugs issues. He has published books related to youth delinquency, violence, sexual crime, drug issue and cybercrime. Wilson has also been regularly interviewed by media on youth crime issues.

Ms Lee Siu-chui, Bob, is currently unit-in-charge at the Hong Kong Federation of youth Groups, Youth Crime Prevention Centre, Hong Kong, SAR. She has over 25 year’s social work practice experience working with family, children, delinquent youth, drug addict, and young offender. She is a member of Fight Crime Committee in Hong Kong. In addition, she is a social work field-work supervisor and registered as an Accredited Mediator in Hong Kong and China. Bob has published books on youth crime, youth law and drug addiction topics.

The Delivery of Life Story Work in Residential Out of Home Care: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Ms Soula Kontomichalos1, Ms Renee O’Donell1
1Deakin University, Park Orchards, Australia,

Young people in residential Out of Home Care (OoHC) are at risk of poorer outcomes as compared to young people who have not been in care. A key reason for this disadvantage is the extensive trauma experienced, both before and during care. Life Story Work (LSW) is an intervention that assists young people in care explore and address their trauma. Despite the emergence of this intervention, to our knowledge, there has been no systematic review of the literature on its efficacy. This is problematic given the vulnerability of this cohort and knowledge gaps into effective interventions.

The purpose of this study was to examine the literature to determine: (1) the manner LSW is delivered to young people in OOHC, and (2) to what extent does LSW improve outcomes for young people in OOHC.

A search of scholarly peer-reviewed publications was conducted for studies on Life Story interventions published in English with no date rage identified.

The findings identified eight studies. A common theme across all studies respondents was that the young person gained a better sense of them self, their family history and why they were in care. Any conclusions on the ideal frequency of sessions, duration of intervention and extent to which LSW improves the outcomes of the young people in OOHC, needs to be considered with caution due to the paucity of research and absence of any rigorous study designs.

Based on these findings a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of the effect of LSW is warranted to identify the effect it is having upon young people in care.


Ms Renée O’Donnell, Research Fellow Monash University.

Biography Ms O’Donnell is a Research Fellow at Monash University and is presently leading the development and evaluation of a number of interventions delivered within the community sector, for young people who are disadvantaged and marginalised. Ms O’Donnell’s expertise surrounds the delivery and implementation of theory informed interventions that effectively change problematic behaviours among young people.

Ms Soula Kontomichalos, (1) General Manager Youth Justice East and Children’s Court Youth Diversion South East Metropolitan Region, Department of Justice and Regulation. (2) Member of the Youth Parole Board, Victoria. (3) Masters by Research student, Deakin University

Biography Ms Kontomichalos has extensive experience in the social welfare system having held management roles in the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice and Regulation. Her responsibilities have included regional oversight of youth justice disability client services and residential facilities, housing assistance advice and reception services.

Jane McGillivray: Professor; School of Psychology; Deakin University

Helen Skouteris: Professor; School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine; Monash University


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