Taking youth crime prevention to scale: Making systems evidence-ready and developmental/life course research policy-relevant

Professor Ross Homel1, Dr Sara Branch2, Dr Kate Freiberg1

1Griffith Criminology Institute, Mount Gravatt, Australia
2Menzies Health Institute, Gold Coast, Australia

Governments have ambitious policies to deliver services through place-based collective impact initiatives to improve child and youth wellbeing and thereby prevent ‘behavioural health problems’ such as youth crime. The Australian Government funds programs like Communities for Children; state governments fund family support services to keep at-risk children out of the child protection system; and schools implement a wide range of behaviour management and positive development programs. However, the links are patchy between government policies and programs and both developmental research and knowledge about youth crime prevention in evidence registries like Blueprints for Positive Youth Development. Recent US research identifies three critical actions to increase take up of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in public systems: policy reforms that prioritise EBPs; development and evaluation of frameworks that address system level barriers to EBPs; and the development of community capacity to implement EBPs at scale through multi-sectoral partnerships. To address this last action, we propose the formation of a range of intermediary organisations which create new forms of infrastructure within which respectful relationships between community members, policy people, frontline professionals, and researchers can be developed and sustained. These supportive collaboratives, maintained by skilled system intermediaries whom we call Collective Change Facilitators, optimise the ‘research translation’ conditions needed for co-creation processes to flourish and for new measurement instruments, tools, methodologies, and evidence-based resources to be developed that are responsive to local contexts, empower local people, and are suitable for use by frontline professionals as well as by community members and sometimes relatively untrained practitioners. In this presentation we draw on the findings of the Create-ing Pathways to Child Wellbeing in Disadvantaged Communities research program to adumbrate the elements of intermediary organisations that can most effectively build the capacity of disadvantaged communities to reduce youth crime and promote the flourishing of children and young people.


Ross Homel is Foundation Professor of Criminology at Griffith University. He is a highly cited social scientist, publishing approximately 200 books, papers, and high impact government reports. He has won many awards for research on the prevention of crime, violence, and injuries and the promotion of positive development for children and young people in socially disadvantaged communities. Including, the 2010 ASC Sellin-Glueck Award. In 2008 he was appointed: Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia “for service to education, particularly in the field of criminology, through research into the causes of crime, early intervention and prevention methods.”


Dec 09 2021