Getting to the heart of the matter: Understanding how families maintain relationships with a loved one in detention and potential for communicating by audio visual link

J.D. Murphy1,2*, K.L. Goodwin2,3

1 Design4Use Pty Ltd
2 Department of Justice NSW
3 Matchbox Studio

*corresponding author:

Currently, the primary mechanisms for families to communicate with loved ones in detention centres in NSW in real time are telephone calls and in person visits to the detention centre.

With the increasing use of technology throughout the Justice sector, the use of remote audio visual link (AVL) is now starting to be adopted as an additional mechanism for communication.

This research study goes beyond the usual mechanisms of survey and interview and employs a diary method in a longitudinal qualitative study to gain a deep understanding of the experience of families communicating with a loved one in detention and by extension their needs and expectations of an audio visual link service to support this communication.

Findings suggest that AVL be thought of as a separate type of communication somewhere between a call and a visit. It has significant advantages of enabling people to see one another’s expressions, show photos, and be ‘hands free’. It supports family members to know how their loved one is going by virtue of being able to see them, and enables the possibility of reversing the visit context in contrast to in-person visits where the visitor is exposed to the detention environment.

The study concludes that policy, rules and guidelines for AVL communication between family and loved ones in detention should be developed independently of those for in person visits or phone calls. Ideas and expectations from participants include anticipation of monitoring, specific terms and conditions of use enforced on an individual basis, a flexible booking system, and access from portable devices, as well as a provision to connect with support from accessible locations.

The presentation will include (anonymised) poster-sized visual profiles of participants with excerpts and images from diaries, and a visual model for describing the ‘rollercoaster’ user experience of a prison visit.


John Murphy specialises in bringing the voice of the end user to design of software to create successful systems.He has over 20 years consulting experience including the Department of Justice in NSW and Victoria for five years through his company Design4Use.Qualifications: Masters Degree in Human Computer Interaction, University College London.

Kate has over 12 years of experience in design, technology and user experience. She works closely with key stakeholders from strategy through to product delivery.Kate has consulted to the NSW Department of Justice since October 2015. Qualifications: Master of Science in Information Systems, University of Melbourne.

A comparison of young people’s views in Japan and Scotland on what works to reduce offending

M. Barry

Principal Research Fellow, Law School, University of Strathclyde, Scotland,

Young offenders’ views of the criminal justice system or of why young people desist from crime are rarely sought by policy makers and practitioners the world over. This presentation draws on a recent study of young offenders’ and ex-offenders’ views and experience of desistance from crime undertaken within Japan, and draws comparisons with a similar study undertaken in Scotland. The focus is young offenders’ responses to questions as to why and how young people desist from crime. The presentation prioritises their verbatim answers to these questions, and in comparing the responses between Japanese and Scottish young people, it concludes that despite concerns amongst criminologists about crime and desistance having different aetiologies within Eastern and Western cultures, young people in both Japan and Scotland have remarkably similar views. This consistency is perhaps based on young people’s universal status as ‘in transition’ and potentially marginalised as a result, rather than on any country-specific status as ‘young people in trouble’.


Monica is a Principal Research Fellow at Strathclyde University’s Law School, where she has worked for the last 8 years. Monica worked as a practitioner in criminal justice social work before becoming a researcher over 20 years ago. Her research interests include youth transitions, criminal and youth justice policy and practice, risk management and desistance, all primarily through the eyes of young offenders themselves. Her PhD was on youth offending and youth transitions and the importance of social recognition in the rise and fall of criminal careers.

A qualitative and quantitative study on harm reduction approaches in Vietnam

Dung Tuan Truong

Dung Tuan Truong, PhD Candidate in Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand,

Abstinence has historically been the dominant approach internationally for tackling drug dependence, however, the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s led to new approaches of engagement with people using illicit drugs, and harm reduction was widely accepted as a more appropriate and effective model of engagement intervention. While Vietnam officially adopted a harm reduction approach in the mid-1990s, misperceptions about drug use and harm reduction are still commonplace, and for many stakeholders abstinence remains the dominant philosophy.

This study explored how Vietnamese key stakeholders perceived harm reduction philosophy and how they applied it in policy and practice. Specifically, the study explored how stakeholders define perceive and understand harm reduction principles respond to drugs, drug use and drug addiction in conjunction with a harm reduction philosophy. Mixed qualitative and quantitative methods were conducted with the participation of 250 survey respondents and 25 interviewees who work for different agencies involved in drug use in Vietnam.

Main results of this study showed that abstinence approaches tended to be preferred in Vietnam, where addiction is categorised as a brain disease. Harm reduction was firmly rooted a narrow public health perspective, and confusion over harm reduction philosophy and its principles were widespread. Harm reduction was designed more to protect the wider community and address medical problems rather than other vital problems, such as resolving discrimination, improving social capital, promoting human rights or reducing conflicts and social disorder behaviour.


First name: Dung

Last name: Truong Tuan

English name: Dane Truong

Sex: Male

Date of Birth: February 08th 1985

Place of Birth: Nghe An Province, Vietnam

Wellington City Telephone: +64 221346765


Educational background: Doing PhD majoring Criminology in  Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. M.A., Justice Leadership, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, March 2011 – August 2012. B.A., Law, the People’s Police University, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, September 2003 July – 2008

Learning from former prisoners who have gone straight makes sense

C. Seppings

Despite the current range of rehabilitation and reintegration programs, more than 55% of the prison population returns. Claire Seppings, funded and supported by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has undertaken a fact-finding visit to the UK, Ireland, Sweden and USA to learn how these countries have successfully utilised the rehabilitative role of ex-prisoner/offenders as peer mentors in reintegration models. There are many offenders who would like to “go straight”, but do not know how. Drawing on the experience of those who have “lived the life” and moved on can really help. By recognising the value that people with lived prison experience can bring to policies and services, and to their own profession, the UK, Ireland, Sweden and the USA have been able to bring positive reform to their criminal justice system. The long-term consequences of a criminal record hamper a person with convictions’ ability to contribute to society, even after they have served their time and stand ready to serve their community. These countries also recognise that laws around disclosure of a person’s previous criminal activity need reform to improve the prospects for such people.

In this presentation, Claire will present an overview of her research, including the key findings and recommendations and highlight some of the inspiring and effective peer-mentoring models she learnt about on her trip. Claire will discuss the reformative role that people with lived experience can provide to the prison system, and how justice sectors can set the example, incorporating in their ethos strong encouragement of former offenders applying for available positions and banning the box from job application forms. We have the opportunity to embrace the expertise of those closest to the problem; and value the commitment of those who have succeeded in desisting and recovering to inspire and help others find their personal success.


Graduating as a Social Worker from Monash University, in 1984, Claire began her career with the Department of Social Security. As a Naturopath in 1997, Claire conducted a healthy living program in HMP Bendigo. In recent years, as a Social Worker with Centrelink, Claire developed extensive relationships with non-/government sectors. Her commitment to creating innovative projects to reduce recidivism and community impact gained high-level recognition. Claire’s lived experience comes from her former partner and his revolving prison journey. In 2012, Claire received the Victorian Custody Reference Group Access to Justice Award. In 2015, Claire was awarded a Churchill Fellowship.

Desistance from sexual offending: Life narratives of recidivism and redemption

Danielle Arlanda Harris

San Jose State University, CA United States,

Desistance refers to the de-escalation or cessation of offending. For two centuries it has been observed by criminologists as a natural human process for the majority of those who break the law but the field of research on sexual aggression has only recently begun to investigate this phenomenon. The widespread and persistent belief that sex offenders are destined to reoffend (Göbbels, et al., 2012; Harris & Cudmore, 2015; Laws & Ward, 2011; Willis, Levenson & Ward, 2010) has aided the development of an entire industry which is now consumed with the assessment of risk and the prediction of recidivism. To that end, a slew of legislation now exists that aims to control and manage the post-custody behaviors (not to mention the literal, day-to-day, physical movement) of (mostly) men convicted of sexual offenses (especially against children) (Harris, 2015).

The present study utilizes a large sample of men incarcerated or civilly committed for sexual offenses and released to the street in the 1990s. It is the first to explore the narrative differences (revealed during in-depth life history interviews) between the 11 men who reoffended sexually and are back in custody and the 60 men who continue to live offense-free lives in the community. The main focus is on understanding the specific experiences and local life circumstances that shaped each participant’s release. The characteristics of the participants are described and compared, and their differential life narratives of redemption and recidivism are explored.


Danielle Arlanda Harris is an Associate Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at San Jose State University and the Director of Research for The Art of Yoga Project. She recently received a grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation for an extensive follow up study of civilly committed sex offenders. She has presented at numerous international conferences including ATSA, ASC, and ACJS. Her research interests include many aspects of sexual offending and sexuality over the life course: specialization and versatility; the criminal career paradigm; desistance, and related public policy.

Supporting transitions to desistance and (re)integration: Recognising reintegrative ritual in everyday practices

D. Johns

University of Melbourne, School of Social & Political Sciences,

Release from prison is typically disorienting, disruptive, uncertain, risky. Supporting people’s post-prison transitions towards desistance – and ultimately ‘reintegration’ – requires specialist skill, understanding and persistence. It often involves a gradual process of building hope and confidence, recognising and capitalising on opportunities for participation and acceptance. In this article I reflect on post-release practice and consider the implications of understanding the post-prison experience through the lens of liminality. From this ‘rites-of-passage’ perspective, release from prison is characterised as a phase of transition which requires some form of symbolic ritual to bring it to a close and mark the beginning of the post-liminal phase of reintegration. Ritual is the key to this transition. Without reintegrative ritual, the liminal phase can become a state of sustained exclusion. How then might practitioners make use of this understanding to work more effectively with released prisoners and help to bring about their reintegration? I draw on research into men’s experience of release from prison in Victoria, Australia, to explore what it means to connect with ex-prisoners in meaningful ways and to effectively support transitions from custody to the community. I conclude that by identifying ordinary everyday practices as powerfully symbolic reintegrative rituals, ex-prisoners (and those supporting them) can recognise the process of transformation as something real and measurable. This recognition allows for the celebration of ‘small successes’, key (the data reveals) to working with vulnerable groups such as ex-prisoners. Through this micro-process, and the gradual accretion of hope and confidence, the path to (re)integration begins to unfold.


Diana spent 2015 doing postdoctoral research on young people’s prolific offending in Wales, UK. Her PhD research (University of Melbourne, 2013) focused on men’s experience of release from prison from the perspective of ex-prisoners and post-release support workers. In 2016 Diana has been writing a book based on her PhD research for the Routledge International Series on Desistance and Rehabilitation. Since 2012 she has taught in the Justice and Legal Studies program at RMIT University, Melbourne, where she maintains a research presence. Diana’s research interests include post-prison reintegration and vulnerable populations’ experience of criminal justice processes.

Australian violence

J.Stubbs1*,  D. Chappell, 3 R Homel, 4 K. Carrington,4  R. Hogg,5  J Bargen 6

1 Faculty of Law UNSW
2 Facutly of Law, University of Sydney
3 Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University
4 School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology
5 Crime and Justice Research Centre, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology
6 Independent researcher

*corresponding author:


Australian violence: Then and now

Julie Stubbs 1 and Stephen Tomsen 2

1 Faculty of Law, UNSW
2 School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University

This paper provides a foundation for the panel by asking the question what is distinctive about Australian violence? Drawing on the new book Australian Violence: Crime, Criminal Justice and Beyond, the paper examines fluidity in shifting conceptions of violence.  It reflects on changes over time in approaches to violence, Australian contributions to international scholarly debates and innovative practices in response to violence. It also notes the leadership of Australian scholars to post-colonial criminology and the newly emerging Southern Criminology, and the new insights this has brought to the analysis of violence.

Shooting, spanking, punching and other matters: Reflections on the work and impact of the National Committee on violence

Duncan Chappell, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney,

On August 9 1987 a gunman, armed with three firearms including a military style M 14 rifle, opened fire on citizens and traffic on Hoddle Street, in busy inner city Melbourne. The gunman, who killed seven people and injured a further 19 was apprehended at the scene and taken into police custody. Just a few months later, on December 8 1987, another gunman armed with a sawn-off M1 military style weapon stormed into an office building in Queen St in the central business district of Melbourne. Firing indiscriminately at office workers the gunman’s rampage resulted in the deaths of eight people and the injury of another five. The gunman evaded capture by jumping to his death from an office window.

These two incidents, subsequently labelled the Hoddle and Queen Street massacres, were among the worst mass killings to have occurred in recent Australian history. The incidents provoked widespread citizen and governmental alarm about the immediate safety of the public as well as the general state of violence in Australian society. Shortly after the massacres the then Prime Minister, Robert Hawke, convened a meeting of the State Premiers and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory to discuss gun control. From this meeting emerged an agreement among all of the governments to establish a National Committee on Violence (NCV).

The presenter, then the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), was appointed Chair of the NCV which reported its findings and recommendations in 1990 (Violence. Directions for Australia). In this paper he reflects on the work and subsequent impact of the NCV with particular reference to gun control, spanking of children and boxing.

Social disadvantage, community mobilisation, and the prevention of violence: A longitudinal community study

Homel1*, R. Wickes2 & R. Zahnow2

1 Griffith Criminology Institute
2 School of Social Science, University of Queensland



Cross-sectional studies demonstrate the strong relationship between disadvantage, social cohesion and violence. Less well understood is how community structure and processes influence violence over time.


Social disorganisation theorists contend that crime concentrates in disorganised areas because community structural characteristics (poverty, racial/ethnic concentration, residential instability) break down regulatory processes. The Australian Community Capacity Study is one of just four studies to examine neighbourhood processes and crime and disorder prospectively over time. We use three waves of the ACCS (2006-2011) across 148 Brisbane suburbs, plus census and police data, to examine the temporal relationship between socio-structural characteristics, community cohesion, and violence.


Overall rates of violence within suburbs did not change, but there was variability between suburbs in violence at any given time, and also variation between suburbs in within suburb changes in violence. Modelling showed that suburbs that increased in social cohesion experienced lower violence over time. Changes in residential mobility, population density, and language diversity did not predict higher violence, but increases in disadvantage were associated with higher violence.


Over a 6-year period across 148 Brisbane suburbs, only reductions in aggregate levels of cohesion and trust and increases in disadvantage were associated with increased rates of police-recorded violence. Aligning social disorganisation research with prevention science using community coalitions of residents and service providers as a prevention delivery system can help identify both the mechanisms that allow for the development of social cohesion and the ways in which social cohesion manifests in activities that lead to lower violence.

Violence in rural Australia

Kerry Carrington 1* , Russell Hogg 2

1 School of Justice, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology
2 Crime and Justice Research Centre, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology.

Traditions of scholarship in the social sciences have tended to perpetuate the myth that rural communities are relatively violence free by romanticising them as places of ‘unquestionable moral virtue’ (Lockie, 2000: 21). Similarly within criminology, most scholarly research about crime and violence has privileged urban settlement as the ideal laboratory of criminological research, neglecting the study of violence in rural contexts. It should not be surprising then that violence in rural societies has attracted little scholarly attention until recently. This neglect is linked to the idea that violence is antithetical to an imagined but idealist conception of what is rural.  This paper, base on our chapter to the collection on Violence in Australia, challenges the myth perpetuated by modernisation thesis – that rural communities are relatively free of crime and violence.

Restorative justice as an innovative response to violence

Jenny Bargen,1 Janet Chan 2 and Jane Bolitho 3

1 Independent researcher
2 Faculty of Law, UNSW
3 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW

There are many good reasons for criminal justice researchers and policymakers to be sceptical about initiatives that are labelled as ‘innovative’. ‘Innovative’ is a term often used for marketing to create a sense of novelty and superiority that may or may not be present in the product. That the tag ‘innovative’ helps sell not only consumer goods but also public policy is symptomatic of a commercial culture that has become ubiquitous in contemporary social life. Yet, as we will argue in this paper, ‘innovative’ can have a tangible meaning in criminal justice. We focus on one of the less well known and rarely promoted ‘innovative justice’ responses -the post-sentence Victim Offender Conference (VOC) run by the Restorative Justice Unit of Corrective Services NSW—and discuss why this form of restorative justice (RJ) practice has the capacity to be a truly innovative response to criminal violence in Australia.



Julie Stubbs is a criminologist whose research is largely focused on gender and criminal justice. Duncan Chappell is a lawyer, criminologist and previously Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology. Ross Homel ‘s passion is crime and violence prevention, for which he has won many awards.Kerry Carrington is an international leader in southern criminology, youth justice, rural crime, gender and violence.Russell Hogg is a leading scholar in theoretical criminology, punishment and society, the politics of law and order, and crime and justice in rural communities. Jenny Bargen is a research consultant and previously Director,  Youth Conferencing in NSW.

‘Reconstructing gender roles in a total institution: Incarcerated primary carer fathers’ expressions of masculinity in Victoria’

T.Bartlett, Monash

This paper draws from data gathered for an Australian Research Council funded study conducted in Victoria and NSW between 2011-2015 that examined how dependent children are responded to when their primary carer is imprisoned, with a specific focus on how care is managed at the key points of arrest, incarceration and release. In particular, it aims to address a gap in research and theory by providing new insights into masculinity and the experiences and challenges facing primary carer fathers in prison in Victoria.

The paper explores the differing expressions of self presented by primary carer fathers in prison, as a ‘total institution.’  In particular, it focuses on primary carer fathers’ experiences of visitation (and visit space) and the opportunities fathers have to ‘do’ fathering within the prison context. To do so, the views of 39 primary carer fathers incarcerated in Victoria are analysed. The paper will argue that there exist a range of models and malleable expressions of masculinity within the prison environment and primary carer fathers use strategies to change who they are in each moment. By clearly highlighting primary carer fathers’ expressions of masculinity from inside the prison environment, gaps will be highlighted and solutions offered as to: how best facilitate the connection between the inside and outside world; and how to allow for the expression of a fathering identity within the prison context.