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Director's review

I am pleased to present the 2018–19 annual report of the AIC, outlining the Institute’s achievements and outcomes for the year.

As Australia’s national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice, the AIC plays a crucial role in developing and disseminating the evidence base to inform policymaking. The Institute’s activities in undertaking, funding and disseminating applied crime and justice research have played a key role in shaping Australia’s response to issues such as deaths in custodial settings, illicit drug use, child sexual abuse and domestic violence—all of which continue to be of concern to both the Australian Government and state and territory governments.

To ensure the work of the Institute remains focused on policy concerns, staff have developed close working relationships within the Home Affairs portfolio. During the year, new projects were initiated with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), AUSTRAC, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), as well as with policymakers in the department.

In recognition of the changing nature of crime in Australia, and in collaboration with the Criminology Research Advisory Council, I revised the AIC’s priorities in 2018–19 to focus on six key themes:

  • criminal justice responses to family and domestic violence;
  • child exploitation material;
  • Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system;
  • youth crime;
  • transnational serious and organised crime; and
  • illicit drugs.

The AIC based much of its work this year on these themes, while also recognising the need to be flexible enough to support policymakers as new problems emerge that require in-depth analysis of the kind undertaken by Institute staff. In addition, the AIC has continued to undertake long-term statistical monitoring of key crime and justice issues, including homicide, deaths in custody, drug use, identity crime and fraud against the Commonwealth.


The production of research lies at the heart of the AIC’s work, with a team of highly qualified criminologists conducting studies on a wide range of issues of concern to stakeholders and focused around the priority themes. This effort resulted in over 60 research papers being produced during the year, helping the Institute to achieve its research-oriented performance criteria.

Two new research programs were launched in July 2018, following the receipt of funding under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The Child Exploitation Material Reduction Research Program funded eight academic teams to develop innovative solutions to the growing problem of child exploitation material. The feature article on page 77–8 provides further details. The new Serious and Organised Crime Research Laboratory, located within the AIC, has been established to use crime science methods and new analytical techniques to identify new approaches to reduce organised crime in Australia. This is already beginning to produce results, with the first ever national statistical analysis of the criminal careers of organised crime offenders, which was used to help cost the impacts of government policies aimed at this group.

Beyond these new initiatives, the AIC has continued to support the Commonwealth and state and territory governments through its research and statistical programs. The National Deaths in Custody Program marked 25 years of collecting and publishing deaths in custody data with an overview of trends covering the period since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program also entered its 20th year, with data collected in four capital cities across the country.

The research program focusing on criminal justice responses to family and domestic violence published a number of important reports that examined domestic violence risk from both a perpetrator and victim perspective. A highlight of this work was the visit by researchers from the US National Network for Safe Communities, which helped to identify potential approaches for addressing this problem.

Towards the end of the financial year, 18 Trends & issues reports and Statistical Bulletins produced during 2018–19 were published in a compendium, which included three studies from each of the AIC’s six research priorities. This publication, entitled Crime & justice research 2019, is available on the AIC website.


The JV Barry Library continues to play an instrumental role in the dissemination of research material to policymakers and practitioners. It has been responsive to the needs of stakeholders through its ‘front desk’ service, as well as by disseminating emerging evidence produced by the AIC and other crime and justice researchers. This is in addition to the library’s key task of supporting AIC researchers with systematic literature searches.

During the year, the AIC continued to see an increase in the use of its website, with over two million page views and its publications being cited in a wide range of government and other publications. It has also continued to host events, with a number of visiting scholars presenting occasional seminars on subjects as diverse as organised crime, the effectiveness of CCTV, child exploitation material and intimate partner violence. Two major conferences were also hosted during the year. In March, we co-hosted the Australasian Youth Justice Conference with the Australasian Youth Justice Administrators and New South Wales Juvenile Justice. And in May we co-hosted the Organised Crime Research Forum with the Australian National University.

As a result of all of this activity, I am pleased to report that the AIC has once again achieved all of its performance criteria for the year and, more importantly, helped to inform crime and justice policy in Australia.

signature of Michael Phelan APM, Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology