Recidivism outcomes among participants of the Gurnang Life Challenge program for young adult male offenders in NSW

Dr Le Tran1, Dr Mark Howard

1Corrections Research, Evaluation and Statistics, Corrective Services NSW, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Young adult offenders (YAOs) have some of the highest rates of recidivism of all age groups. Research suggests they also have risk factors and challenges that are different from offenders of other age groups. However, there has historically been a lack of intervention programs that are specifically tailored to this cohort, and little has been done to understand the effectiveness of these programs.

This study examined the effect of participation in the Gurnang Life Challenge (GLC), a specialised program for male offenders aged 18-25 years in NSW, on recidivism outcomes (N= 593). Developed based on a number of cognitive-behavioural approaches and models of change, the GLC aims to address these offenders’ dynamic risk factors and specific needs while also taking into account their readiness for treatment and other responsivity factors.

Treatment effects were estimated using a series of binary logistic regression models comparing matched cohorts of GLC participants and eligible YAOs who did not enter the program. Given the identified priority of YAOs with Aboriginal background, subgroup analyses were also performed to explore if Aboriginality moderated the effect of treatment on recidivism outcomes.

Results indicated that GLC participants showed some evidence of lower recidivism rates relative to matched comparison offenders; however effects of treatment were not statistically significant. Subgroup analyses indicated that participation in the GLC may have been associated with differing reoffending outcomes for offenders of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal background. The findings of this study have relevance to current revisions to the NSW treatment model for YAOs, which will also be discussed.


Le Tran is a Senior Research Analyst at Corrections Research, Evaluation and Statistics (CRES) unit of Corrective Services NSW. She is an experienced corrections researcher, with expertise on custodial case management, offender service and assessment, therapeutic alternative sanctions, and behaviour change interventions.

Mark Howard is Manager of Research and Evaluation at CRES. He is a forensic psychologist and has previously worked in offender assessment and expert evidence matters for the NSW Criminal Courts. He is currently engaged in a number of research projects, with interests in violence within prisons, sexual offending, mechanisms of change in offender treatment, and program evaluation.


Dec 09 2021