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Feature: Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards

Photos of award winners holding certificates, some of them posing with Senator Linda Reynolds.

Every year the AIC recognises projects that prevent crime and improve public safety with the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards. Any government agency, not-for-profit organisation or individual who makes a significant contribution to such a project in Australia can be nominated for an award. Projects may address specific groups such as rural and remote communities, women, children, young people, families, migrants, ethnic or Indigenous communities, or specific problems such as alcohol-related violence. The Director of the AIC chairs the selection board.

In 2018, 12 projects were recognised. Five of these projects were led by police and seven by community groups. On 29 November Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, then the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, announced the winners at a ceremony in Parliament House, Canberra. There were three gold winners, four silver winners and five bronze winners. The award-winning projects played a crucial role in preventing and protecting against crime and violence, and in reducing the impact of crime on people’s lives.

Police-led winners

Queensland Police Service Gold Coast Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce, Queensland—Gold award winner

The Gold Coast Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce has, since January 2016, demonstrated Queensland Police Service’s innovation and community leadership. The taskforce has developed new relationships, programs, practices and strategies which have substantially improved safety for our most vulnerable. This is a multi-faceted, evidence-based response to family and domestic violence that has reduced violence and prevented homicides.

Speak Up, Be Strong, Be Heard, Queensland—Silver award winner

The Speak Up, Be Strong, Be Heard project was developed in response to the report Preventing youth sexual violence and abuse in West Cairns and Aurukun. The project developed an ethos of child protection by increasing community awareness of youth sexual violence and abuse, strengthening reporting obligations and improving the overarching agency interventions in the community. This is a unique and effective approach to dealing with the problem of youth sexual violence and abuse in Cape York communities. The program engages locally in a culturally appropriate and inclusive way that responds to local Indigenous needs.

Connected Women, Queensland—Silver award winner

Connected Women is a nine-week program led by women from the Queensland Police Service. It is designed especially for newly arrived young Muslim refugee women. The Islamic Women’s Association of Australia works in partnership with senior female police mentors to empower and educate these young women. This is a practical approach to connecting police with vulnerable women who may have experienced trauma, who may be victims of family violence and other offences, and who may not trust police. The program has the potential to empower these women in ways that help them stay free of violent victimisation.

Stay Safe in our State: Advice for international students, New South Wales—Bronze award winner

This project involved creating a video which provides information on safety and crime prevention to international students at the University of Wollongong. International students are known to be vulnerable to opportunistic crime, including robbery, theft and assault. The project aimed to increase public safety while reducing fear of crime by increasing viewers’ awareness of safety issues and teaching them how to access assistance. The video is available for viewing online, at local services and through the university’s orientation program. It has also been made accessible in a number of common languages. The project has been recognised by the NSW Police Force and the NSW Department of Industry.

South West District Blue Light Shearing Project, Queensland—Bronze award winner

Approximately three years ago, Police Liaison Officer Laurie Bateman started a program teaching shearing skills to vulnerable young people in the Cunnamulla community to curb and prevent offending behaviour. From these humble beginnings, PLO Bateman has secured funding and formalised a partnership with Blue Light Queensland to establish the South West Blue Light Shearing Project. At a time when jobs are difficult to find, the shearing project has provided much needed skills and hope to young people in the south west, affording them work in one of the few local industries with future growth prospects. The program has already diverted many young people away from offending and violent behaviour and given them hope for the future. This is a good example of a local initiative in a community that has a range of socio-economic challenges. The project contributes to positive outcomes in employment, wellbeing and crime prevention.

Community-led winners

Out Teach Mobile Education, Tasmania—Gold award winner

Out Teach Mobile Education employs a specialist teacher to work one-on-one with students aged 10 to 18 years who are in contact with the justice system and disengaged from learning. The teacher collaborates with youth workers from Save the Children’s youth justice mentoring program to reduce youth crime by increasing protective factors of wellbeing and education. A mobile classroom in outdoor and informal settings allows engagement with the hardest-to-reach learners. This is a simple but valuable initiative that addresses education deficit, a key social determinant of disadvantage and involvement with the criminal justice system. Over three years, 80 percent of participants did not return to court and 89 percent did not return to or enter detention.

Together We Can, Victoria—Gold award winner

Family Life, in partnership with Cardinia Shire, Victoria Police, the University of Melbourne and the Cardinia community, developed and implemented a community-based social change initiative: Together We Can. This initiative aims to address the problem of family and domestic violence through a whole-of-community approach. This project, the first of its kind in Australia, has shown promising outcomes, with a 16 percent reduction in reported incidents of family violence over the life of the project.

Mac River Residential Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Service, New South Wales—Silver award winner

Mission Australia has been delivering the Mac River Residential Drug and Alcohol Centre since 2011. The service is a partnership between Mission Australia, NSW Juvenile Justice, the NSW Department of Education and the NSW Department of Health. It provides a 12-week residential drug and alcohol treatment for 13–18 year olds from rural New South Wales. These young people receive intensive therapeutic treatment to address offending behaviours and substance use, participate in formal schooling, develop life skills, receive social and emotional support, participate in family therapy and are supported to engage with their culture.

Day for Daniel, Queensland—Silver award winner

Day for Daniel is a national day of action, raising awareness of child safety. The theme of the day is to wear red and educate children about personal safety. The overall goal is to prevent children from experiencing abuse or, if they have, to help them to identify this and talk to an adult who can help them. This is a longstanding national event that has widespread reach and recognition. Evidence suggests it is effective in raising understanding and awareness in a way that can help to prevent rare but devastating forms of crime. While it is only one day per year, its reach means many school age children will be exposed to the messages repeatedly across their school life, aiding retention of the information.

Seeds of Affinity: Pathways for Women, South Australia—Bronze award winner

Seeds of Affinity supports and empowers women during their time in prison and upon their release. Once released, women connect with each other by meeting twice weekly to make skin care products and gourmet treats, and by sharing their stories over cooking and sharing a meal together. They create toiletry packs for women in prison and advocate for the rights of criminalised women and their children. Most importantly, women who attend Seeds of Affinity community workshops feel a sense of belonging, solidarity and self-worth during the difficult transition from prison back to the community. This program meets the needs of the growing number of women in prison in South Australia and is almost totally reliant on volunteers.

Mates on the Move and Class Mates training projects, New South Wales—Bronze award winner

Mates on the Move is a social enterprise initiative of the Prisoners’ Aid Association of New South Wales. Mates on the Move provides work experience and employment for people leaving prison. It funds training for those leaving prison to make them job ready. Mates on the Move provides commercial removal and storage services to the community, and is aiming to sustain not only the removal business but the training projects. The training includes a Certificate II in Warehouse Operations, Certificate III in Furniture Removals, forklift licences, work health and safety blue cards and life skills training such as cooking skills. Mates on the Move also provides ongoing employment for ex-prisoners. This is an innovative and practical project that helps reduce the growth of imprisonment by addressing key contributors to reoffending.

Whole of School Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence Program, Tasmania—Bronze award winner

The project aims to address the underlying causes of sexual assault, thereby reducing its incidence. It promotes respectful sexual behaviours among young people and enhances the capacity of Tasmanian secondary school communities to respond to and prevent sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Support Service collaborates with schools to implement a unique whole-of-school education program that meets the needs of the particular school group. The organisation works with school managers and teachers to ensure effective collaboration, engagement and ownership of the training program. This initiative addresses an ongoing need by improving knowledge and awareness of healthy relationships among young people at a critical time in their development.