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Introduction

The AIC has served successive Australian governments and the criminal justice system for 45 years as the nation’s research and knowledge centre on crime and justice—undertaking and disseminating research, compiling trend data and providing policy advice.

The Institute was established in 1973 by the Commonwealth Criminology Research Act 1971, to centrally collect and analyse national criminological data and provide evidence-based research to government and policing agencies. In late 2010 the Australian Government passed the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Act 2010, amending the Criminology Research Act.

Following a machinery-of-government change in October 2015, staff from the AIC were transferred to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), with the ACIC Chief Executive Officer becoming Director of the AIC. Legislative amendments to combine the functions of the AIC and the ACIC are pending parliamentary approval.

Throughout the year, the Institute maintained strong links and partnerships with Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies, police agencies, universities and other research organisations by providing research, analysis and advice. The AIC also frequently undertook research projects in partnership or under contract to meet its partner agencies’ needs.

Minister, portfolio and director

The AIC is part of the Home Affairs portfolio. The Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, has ministerial responsibility for the AIC. Mr Michael Phelan is the Director of the AIC.

Purpose and role

The AIC is Australia’s national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice. We undertake and disseminate research and provide policy advice.

Functions

The AIC undertakes its functions as set out in the Criminology Research Act 1971, which are:

(a) to promote justice and reduce crime by:

(i) conducting criminological research; and

(ii) communicating the results of that research to the Commonwealth, the States, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and the community;

(b) to assist the Director in performing the Director’s functions;

(c) to administer programs for awarding grants, and engaging specialists, for:

(i) criminological research that is relevant to the public policy of the States, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory; and

(ii) activities related to that research (including the publication of that research, for example).

The functions of the Director include:

  • conducting criminological research, including the collection of information and statistics on crime and justice matters;
  • communicating the results of that research, including through the publication of research material and seminars and courses of training or instruction;
  • providing information and advice on the administration of criminal justice to the Australian Government and state and territory governments; and
  • collaborating both within and outside Australia with governments, institutions and authorities, and with bodies and persons, on research and training in connection with the administration of criminal justice.

Outcomes

The AIC’s outcome, as stated in the Portfolio Budget Statement, is to inform crime and justice policy and practice in Australia by undertaking, funding and disseminating policy-relevant research of national significance; and through the generation of a crime and justice evidence base and national knowledge centre.

This outcome is achieved by:

  • undertaking impartial and policy-relevant research of the highest standard on crime and criminal justice;
  • working cooperatively with the Home Affairs portfolio, other federal agencies and state and territory government agencies in the AIC’s role as the Australian Government’s national research centre on crime and justice;
  • administering an effective and efficient annual Criminology Research Grants program that results in policy-relevant research; and
  • actively disseminating research findings to policymakers, practitioners and the general public, across Australia and internationally, in a timely manner.