Research with Impact

Court Support 4 Kids Launch

Attending court in relation to a Family Violence Intervention Order can be an incredibly stressful experience. It can often occur in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, including after police have removed a perpetrator from the home or a woman and children have fled to a refuge. Having to detail their experiences to court staff, police and lawyers is distressing enough for most victim-survivors of family violence. Doing so in the presence of their children – while also caring for and supervising them in an environment which is designed entirely around adults – makes this nearly impossible. 

Commissioned by McAuley Community Services for Women, recently released research by the CIJ finds that women bring their children to court for a variety of reasons that are often not recognised or catered for by the justice infrastructure. This may mean that women do not persist with their application, or that lawyers or other court staff are unable to provide them with the necessary advice – making this an access to justice issue that has been ignored by the justice system, and not well researched in the past. The CIJ’s Evaluation of McAuley’s Court Support 4 Kids program – currently delivered in three Magistrates’ Court environments by three different providers – indicates that services providing support for children at court are sorely lacking and also highlights the very real set of needs that are going unaddressed in Victorian courts where programs like CS4K are not available. Elena Campbell wishes to thank Lucy Macmillan, Evaluation Consultant, for her expert research and evaluation over the life of this project.

You can find more information on this issue at our blog 
View the Needs Assessment Report here
View the Evaluation Report here
CIJ's Associate Director - Research, Advocacy & Policy and report author Elena Campbell, Jocelyn Bignold, CEO McAuley and Rob Hulls at the report launch

Counselling Order Review – Beyond ‘getting him to a program’

After some very concentrated work, the CIJ has submitted its final recommendations to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria regarding the processes by which courts can mandate perpetrators of family violence to participate in Men’s Behaviour Change Programs. The report makes recommendations for substantial reform and for the development of extensive internal materials which the court can use to support their implementation. The court is currently considering these recommendations and materials and the CIJ will continue to work with the court to provide advice as it incorporates these into the broader program of work focusing on perpetrator interventions and the rollout of Specialist Family Violence Courts. Here Elena Campbell notes her deep appreciation for the significant contributions and expertise of Perpetrator Intervention Consultant, Rodney Vlais, who has played a substantial role in much of the CIJ’s work in relation to perpetrators of family violence in recent years and played a very key role in this work for the Magistrates’ Court. 

To explore this requisite shift and its relationship to court-based reform, read the comprehensive Literature Review which was in turn supported by interstate and international consultations and prepared by the CIJ as part of this work for the Magistrates’ Court.

View the report here

PIPA Project – One final chapter

Well, it turns out that it’s much harder to wrap up such an interesting project than we first expected. Just when we thought we were on the home straight for the PIPA Project, the last workshops in Tasmania opened a door for further data collection that we simply could not ignore. The PIPA team will therefore be returning to Tasmania before Christmas to conduct a review of case files from Tasmania Legal Aid and the Magistrates’ Court of Tasmania which should highlight whether responses to young people’s use of family violence are having similar impacts to those in Victoria, despite this behaviour not being named as family violence by Tasmanian legislation. The PIPA report will then be submitted to ANROWS early in 2019 and released towards the middle of the year. In the meantime, however, the PIPA team continues to present to Departmental forums and at conferences so that its preliminary findings can inform the development of policy and practice in an area in need of urgent reform.    

Restorative justice work continues

The CIJ is delighted that both WorkSafe and the TAC have engaged it to continue with restorative justice projects and provide further advice and practical assistance with implementation. The CIJ has been delivering workshops to TAC staff, including executives, and filming material for use internally in both organisations. We hope to be able to make further announcements about our work in this area soon.

Restitution and Compensation Orders

The CIJ made a submission to the Sentencing Advisory Council's recently released report, 'Restitution and Compensation Orders.' The report recommends improvements to the system for enforcing restitution and compensation orders against offenders. 

The report can be found here.

Women's Decarceration Research Agenda 

Over the past four months, the CIJ has been developing a Women's Decarceration Research Agenda to help inform its future research. The CIJ has been supporting two final year RMIT Social Work students completing their Field Education 2 placement to develop the Research Agenda for the CIJ to implement over the coming years. The students and CIJ staff have consulted with approximately 20 agencies who work with criminalised women, which has revealed a number of issues the sector is facing that require further research and advocacy.

These issues include those factors which contribute to women's vulnerability and in turn to their trajectory into offending or reoffending. They also include the way in which recent 'law and order' reforms have impacted particularly severely on women, as well as how some therapeutic measures which might be assumed to be a positive intervention for all justice system users are in fact not working well for women. The CIJ wants to thank students, Crystal Lee and Alexandra Johnson for their great work over an intense period and wishes them well as they graduate with new Social Work qualifications! A preliminary report outlining the key issues identified through the project, as well as the CIJ's associated priorities, will be released in early 2019. 
Clinical Legal Education
Semester 2 students have just completed their placements at the Mental Health Legal Centre, the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women and the Young Workers Centre. For the first time, towards the end of the semester, students participated in a reflective practice workshop, where they were able to share the experiences they had and the things they learnt while on placement. Students on placement at the MHLC this semester were involved in setting up a new Fines Clinic at the prison. The Fines Clinic has already provided assistance to over 70 women and has seen over $600,000 worth of fines converted to Time Served Orders or waived. Assistance provided by students and lawyers at the Fines Clinic mean that women are able to leave prison with a clean slate rather than infringements and warrants hanging over their heads. 
Shadow a Magistrate
Seven RMIT JD students spent a week shadowing Magistrates who sit on the Assessment and Referral Court (that hears the cases of people experiencing mental health issues and/or cognitive impairments) and observing therapeutic jurisprudence in practice. Students were able to debrief with their Magistrates after observing court and also had access to the Clinicians and other staff involved in the ARC Court.

"My Magistrate was great, he took time to talk to us about the ARC list and about the application of therapeutic jurisprudence more generally as it applies to his practice. He invited me to attend the next Koori Court session he will be presiding in so that I can go and observe that too. I can’t stress enough what a great week I have had on this placement. I have learned so much, and it has made me more confident of the work I would like to do with vulnerable groups, including those with mental health concerns and related cognitive impairments."

 Megan Beatrice, First Year JD student
Innovative Justice
The new core JD course, Innovative Justice, has successfully finished up its first year. The course aims to teach students innovative theories and frameworks such as therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice, holistic law, creative problem solving and preventive law. It is delivered by the CIJ and RMIT, taught by Professor Bronwyn Naylor, Dr Tim Bunjevic and Stan Winford. This semester, students were asked to consider innovative solutions to dealing with the issue of graffiti. They heard from guest speakers who are involved with this issue on a day to day basis – including a young person who had experienced both the youth and adult justice systems and had some interesting insights into the effectiveness of some responses to youth offending, what it is like being sentenced in a court, and what actually motivated him to change his behaviour.  Students also watched and participated in a restorative justice conferencing simulation. Their assessment included developing and presenting innovative and holistic solutions to this justice challenge by drawing on what they had read and heard from the guest speakers to consider adversarial and non-adversarial approaches.
2019 Study Tour - We're going to New York!
The CIJ is proud to be partnering with New York’s Center for Court Innovation to take our Innovative Justice Study Tour to New York City for the first time. Students will visit the Red Hook Community Justice Center, Drug Courts, a County Jail, community safety initiatives and meet judges who deliver innovative justice approaches in their courts.
Applications are open to RMIT JD students and must be be received by 12 November 2018. Application details and further information can be accessed here.

To get a sense of what the CIJ Study Tours are like you can watch a short video about the 2018 Melbourne Study Tour here.

Julia Gillard on the law, politics and changing the world 

While former Prime Minister Julia Gillard was here for our recent event, she gave some of her time to speak to Rob Hulls about her early days as a law student, breaking the glass ceiling and how use the the law and politics to change the world. The video includes some great advice for all of you law students out there!
Where are they now?
Jack Faine completed the RMIT JD in 2017. We had a chat with him to see what she's been up to since.

When did you graduate, what have you been up to since then?
I graduated at the end of 2017. In March 2018 I started as a Trainee at Maurice Blackburn. I have just finished 6
months in the Employment and Industrial Section of the firm, working on a range of discrimination, Fair Work
Act and public law matters.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey and why you decided to pursue a law degree?
Prior to studying law I worked in a school-based education program in remote Western Australia for a couple of years. The program I was working for lost its funding and I realised that I needed to take the opportunity whilst I was young to get further qualifications. I decided on law as it provided a broad base of skills. This was more of a pragmatic/practical decision as I wasn't sure which direction I was going to take in my career.

Continue reading Jack's story here
Passion with Purpose

CIJ's New Website!

The CIJ is thrilled to be launching a brand new website! The new site has easier access to all our content, including our research and publications, blog, Talking Innovative Justice podcast and video channel.    

Please note we have also changed our web address to


2018 Higinbotham lecture - Why Australia needs a Charter of Human Rights

This year's Higinbotham lecture was delivered by Human Rights Law Centre Executive Director Hugh de Kretser  on the topic of Australia’s need for national charter of human rights. Unlike some other Western democracies such as Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Australia does not have a national charter of rights, meaning the right to things such as privacy, free speech and association, and unfair incarceration are only partially protected. 

His comments follow a 2017 CIJ research report by five RMIT Juris Doctor students, which found the key impacts of a charter would be increased transparency, debate and consideration. You can read that report here.
For those who missed the lecture, you can view the footage here.
In the Media
We can't afford shortcuts on family violence

Rob Hulls, Herald Sun, 26 Oct 2018

Discrimination on the basis of an irrelevant criminal record

Caitlin Calder-Potts and CIJ's Stan Winford discuss the mounting evidence that in recruitment some criminal background checks are not being used appropriately. 
9 Oct 2018

CIJ out and about
08 Nov – Peninsula CLC AGM. Speaker: Rob Hulls
04 Dec – NSW Bar Association. Speaker: Rob Hulls
06 Dec – ANZSOG Conference Round table. Speakers: CIJ researchers

 – AODTC Conference. Speaker: Rob Hulls
08 Feb  Understanding Crime and Rural Communities, Federation Uni. Speaker: Rob Hulls
TBC March  Minter Ellison. Speaker: Rob Hulls 
TBC Dec 
 Australia & New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference, WA. Speaker: Rob Hulls
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