22/8/16
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Sydney Institute of Criminology
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Community Sadness and Reflections on Policy as Aboriginal Woman Dies in Custody

Please be advised that this segment contains the name of a deceased Aboriginal person.



Last week, news emerged of the devastating death of Wiradjuri woman Rebecca Maher - marking the first Aboriginal death in NSW police custody since 2000. While the cause of her death remains unclear at this stage, it has been reported that the 36 year old woman was detained by police after she appeared intoxicated in the street in the very early morning of the 19th of July, and took her to Maitland Police Station. Around 6am, she was found to be deceased in her cell. In a media release on the 19th of July, the NSW Police Force announced that the Critical Incident Team from Newcastle would be investigating the incident in an independent review and the Coroner would determine the cause of death. A second media release on the 25th of July went on to say that NSW Police originally picked up Ms Maher out of concern for her welfare. Early reports stated that there was no evidence of foul play or self-harm at that stage. 

Since her death, the NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Service has accused NSW Police of not informing them that Ms Maher was in custody in a timely fashion. Despite the compulsory use of the Custody Notification Service, which requires police to inform the ALS of an Aboriginal person's detainment in custody with 24 hours, the ALS claims that they were not informed until 24 days later on the 12th of August. The Custody Notification Service was implemented as a key recommendation of the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, with Ms Maher being the first person to die in custody in NSW in the 16 years that it has been used. However, it has since been found that police are only obligated to use the CNS policy if they arrest an Aboriginal person, but since Ms Maher was not charged with an offence, they were not under this obligation. This has caused the ALS and others to further question the policy itself as well as the actions of police in maintaining their duty of care for any intoxicated person in their custody. Ms Maher's family and friends have also said that they were not informed of her death until six hours after she was found to be deceased.

ALS Chief Executive Gary Oliver stated that had the police officers involved used the CNS or perhaps better followed other procedures around intoxicated detainees, the case may have had a different outcome. Her death has occurred at an important time, when rates of Indigenous incarceration have dramatically worsened since the Royal Commission into Abroriginal Deaths in Custody was originally held.
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Upcoming Events
Parklea Correctional Centre Roundtable on Inmate Education

Date: 22 September, 12.30-3:00pm
Location: Parklea Correctional Centre, Western Sydney, NSW

Dr Amy Ludlow and Dr Ruth Armstrong are academics at the University of Cambridge, and during September and October, they are visiting the University of Canberra to collaborate with Dr Lorana Bartels. They have a shared interest in prison education and its capacity for individual, institutional and social transformation and inclusive growth. In the UK, Dr Ludlow and Dr Armstrong have designed, delivered and are evaluating an educational initiative called Learning Together. Learning Together brings together students in prisons and universities to study university-level courses with each other, in the prison environment. Learning Together has spread rapidly in the UK and will be running in approximately 20 prisons by January 2017.

Whilst in Australia, they are keen to learn about examples of innovative partnership working in a prison educational context. To this end, they have organised a roundtable at Parklea Correctional Centre. They are inviting a range of academics, prison practitioners, policy makers, and people currently detained at Parklea to participate. Their hope is to discuss what they’ve been doing in the UK, particularly the theoretical underpinnings of Learning Together and what they have learned so far from delivering and evaluating the course. They then hope to have small group discussions about examples of partnership working and innovation in the Australian prison context and explore what Australia and the UK might learn from each other’s systems and practices.

If you would like to attend this event, please be aware that Parklea Correctional Centre requires advance notification of attendees for security purposes, so please reply to justis@crim.cam.ac.uk by Monday 5 September. Please bring photographic identification with you as everyone must be able to produce this while on the correctional complex. Please present yourself at the Administration Building with your ID by 12:00pm, where lunch will be provided prior to the event. While you will not be entering the correctional centre during the event, it is recommended your personal belongings are kept to a minimum while on the correctional complex.

The program for the Crime Prevention and Communities Conference has been announced!
Date: 3-4 November 2016
Location: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

The Australian Institute of Criminology and the Queensland Police Service are hosting Australia’s third major Crime Prevention and Communities conference this November. This important conference, Innovative responses to traditional challenges, will inform local government, urban planners, policy makers, police, criminologists, non-government community organisations, researchers and students about best practice, policy, evaluation and research. The conference will feature speakers from contributors a range of crime prevention projects and programs.

You can view the preliminary program online. Presentations will highlight best practice, policy, research underpinnings or evaluation in crime prevention.

Topics to be explored include: 
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Vulnerable communities—including Indigenous, elderly, CALD and youth
  • Domestic violence prevention
  • Crime prevention policy
  • Social approaches to crime prevention
  • Environmental approaches to crime prevention
  • Mental health

The conference will inform local government, urban planners, policy makers, police, criminologists, non-government community organisations, researchers and students. 

Early bird registrations end on the 30th of August. To register, please visit the event website.

Baroness Jean Corston lecture: 'Women in the Criminal Justice System: More often troubled than troublesome'
Date: 13 September, 5:30pm
Location: University of Sydney, NSW

After the death of six women who were incarcerated at HMP Styal in the UK in 2003, The Right Honourable Baroness Corston published a 2007 report about women in the criminal justice system. This became known as the Corston Report. The Report focused on the diversion of women offenders and potential offenders away from criminal behaviour through the provision of women-focused policy and services.

The UK Government implemented 41 of the 43 recommendations in the Corston Report. The main outcome has been the expansion of community justice centres, as an alternative to prison. These 'one-stop-shops' for female offenders have been implemented to reduce recidivism and deter criminal behaviour by addressing the social, health and welfare issues that are unique to women.   In her Distinguished Speakers lecture, Baroness Corston will speak on the background to her report, the findings and recommendations, and developments in policy and practice in the subsequent nine years since the report's release.

Registration (inc.GST)*
Full fee = $15
University of Sydney alumni = $10
Full time student = $10
*Cost includes cocktail reception following the lecture

Registration will commence at 5.30pm, for a 6-7pm lecture followed by a cocktail reception. For more information and to register, please visit our website.
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Recent Publications
The Abolition of Defensive Homicide: A Step towards Populist Punitivism at the Expense of Mentally Impaired Offenders

By Madeleine Ulbrick, Asher Flynn and Danielle Tyson

The offence of defensive homicide was abolished in Victoria in November 2014, following a widely held perception that it was being abused by violent men. While primarily associated with battered women who killed in response to prolonged family violence — but who were unable to establish their offending as self-defence — a less publicised rationale underpinning the introduction of defensive homicide was to provide an alternative offence for offenders with cognitive impairments not covered by the mental impairment (formerly the insanity) defence. Cognitive impairments are complex and varied in their nature and symptomatology. Offenders presenting with cognitive impairments therefore require an appropriate range of legal responses to capture the nuances and appropriate moral culpability of their conduct. Drawing from an analysis of the cases of defensive homicide heard over its 10–year lifespan, this article contends that the abolition of defensive homicide did not adequately take into consideration the potential impacts on individuals whose mental conditions are not typically covered by the restrictive mental impairment defence. We further argue that the decision to abolish defensive homicide was driven by dominant, populist voices, without sufficient attention given to the offence’s potential to achieve the aims underpinning its enactment, including providing an alternative offence for women who kill in response to prolonged family violence.

The full article, published by the Melbourne University Law Review, can be found here.  

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights: International and Regional Jurisprudence

By Ben Saul

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights explores how general human rights standards have enabled, empowered and constrained indigenous peoples in claiming and defending their essential economic, social, cultural, civil and political interests. The book examines the jurisprudence of United Nations treaty committees and regional human rights bodies (in Africa, the Americas and Europe) that have interpreted and applied human rights standards to the special circumstances and experiences of indigenous peoples. It focuses particularly on how human rights laws since the 1960s have been drawn upon by indigenous activists and victims to protect their interests in ancestral lands, natural resources, culture and language. It further explores the right to indigenous self-determination; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights (including labour rights); family and children's rights; violence and discrimination against indigenous peoples; and access to justice and remedies for violations. The book also discusses international and regional efforts to define who is 'indigenous' and who is a 'minority', and the legal relationship between indigenous individuals and their communities. The jurisprudence considered in this book significantly shaped the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007, which particularises and adapts general human rights standards for indigenous peoples. The book concludes by exploring future normative and implementation challenges in the light of the standard setting and consolidation, and political momentum, surrounding the UN Declaration and associated UN human rights mechanisms.

The book can be purchased online here.

Prison Experiences and Psychological Distress among Older Inmates
By Susan Baidawi, Christopher Trotter & Catherine Flynn

Older people are the fastest growing age subgroup of prisoners in many countries worldwide, although they tend to only comprise a minority of overall prisoner populations. Correctional facilities, regimes, and programs are generally more suited to the needs of younger inmates, a situation that has been suggested to contribute to disadvantage and marginalization of older prisoners.

This study investigates relationships between older prisoners’ social experiences and their levels of distress. One hundred and seventy-three older prisoners (aged ≥ 50 years) from 8 Australian prisons were administered the Kessler Psychological Distress (K10) Scale, with additional information collected via individual interviews. Psychological distress scores were significantly associated with measures of self-reported safety (p < .001), prison victimization (< .05), perceived social support from staff (< .01) and inmates (< .001), current employment (< .05), and level of exercise (< .001) among older inmates. Findings suggest that strategies for improving sense of safety, social support and level of exercise may ameliorate distress among older prisoners.

This article can be read in full here.

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Call for Abstracts
Not Now, Not Ever Research Symposium
The Not Now, Not Ever Research Symposium is to be held at The Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research (QCDFVR) at Central Queensland University on Thursday 23rd & Friday 24th February 2017. This symposium is designed for researchers at all levels who are working in the field of gendered violence. Practitioners and policy makers from the range of sectors associated with gendered violence are invited to share in this experience.

This is a unique opportunity to bring together all who are helping to build the evidence base to prevent and respond to domestic and family violence and sexual assault. Please submit your abstract to present at the Symposium, or register your interest in attending the event.

If you have any enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research on 07 4940 3348.
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Job Advertisements
Principal Legal Officer - CAALAS, Alice Springs
Senior Practitioner - Sexual Assault Support and Prevention Program - Brisbane, QLD
Zig Zag Young Women’s Resource Centre is seeking an experienced Senior Practitioner for a permanent appointment within our Sexual Assault Support and Prevention Program.

Zig Zag is seeking a skilled practitioner with significant experience in the provision of clinical and line management supervision, and therapeutic support to women or young people who have experienced sexual violence / complex trauma. Tertiary qualifications in social work, social and behavioural sciences, psychology or related area are essential; and post-graduate qualifications will be highly regarded.  This permanent position is part time, 64 hours (8 days) per fortnight, and is paid at the QCSCA Award Level 6.

Zig Zag employs women only, EEO exempt. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women from diverse cultural backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more information and to apply, please follow the link.
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Student Opportunities
Internship Programme of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI)
The UN's Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) is seeking university students to take part in their internship program next year. Doing an internship at UNICRI is an opportunity to have first-hand experience of the day-to-day working environment of the United Nations and to work with people in a multicultural environment.

Interns at UNICRI have been actively involved in the implementation of projects related to different working areas of UNICRI - spanning from international criminal law and cybersecurity to preventing environmental crimes, violent extremism, and drug addiction. The internships last for at least two months with a possibility of further extension for a maximum period of up to six months, and will take place in either Rome or Turin in Italy.

Students enrolled in a graduate school programme (second university degree) or students enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree programme (or their equivalents), who intend to study further or to work in a field relevant to UNICRI’s activities are eligible. Those who graduated with a university degree (bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees), if selected, must commence the internship within a one-year period of graduation.

They are accepting applications for internships in the following UNICRI units/programmes:

−        Office of the Director (1 position)
−        Office of the Senior Programme Officer (1 position)
−        Emerging Crimes (1 position)
−        Counter-Terrorism (1 position)
−        Advanced Education and Training (1 position)
−        Public Information (1 position)
−        CBRN Risks Mitigation (2 positions)
−        Liaison Office in Rome (4 positions)

For more information, please visit the UNICRI website.
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