The Keeping on Country Recidivism Project — commissioned as part of the Federal Government’s “Breaking the Cycle” initiative — examined causes of, and potential strategies for reducing, criminal offending and recidivism in the remote communities of Doomadgee and Mornington Island (North West Queensland). The research was informed by a JR approach which places indigenous community ownership at the forefront of JR initiatives. It aimed to develop locally-informed data on causes of criminal offending and recidivism, and identify community led strategies aimed at preventing and stopping criminal cycling.
The research identified key risk factors associated with reoffending. These included early school disengagement, the absence of opportunities for paid work from a young age, the normalisation of crime within families, and juveniles committing crimes with peers while under the influence of alcohol and /or drugs. All offenders who participated in the research had cycled into the adult prison system: eighty percent were charged for domestic violence offences while under the influence of alcohol or drug use; seventy percent had been imprisoned on four or more occasions for breaching parole conditions.
Since this research was conducted, a number of JR initiatives have been implemented within and by the Doomadgee and Mornington Island communities. This has happened despite the absence of dedicated funding and program structure. Local indigenous researchers who worked on the Keeping on Country Recidivism Project have reported an enhanced sense of community recognition that successful reintegration can be aided by reconnection to country. They have noted that many families now actively take young men back on to country upon their return from prison. Additionally families often actively remove young men from the township to on country locations when stress escalates the risks of re-offending (e.g., difficulties in intimate partner relationships; commence drinking alcohol or engaging in gambling). Other community initiatives underway include: a ‘Keeping on Country’ support group, established to support desistence from crime. The group meets weekly and engages in a monthly on country cammps; the introduction of family video conferencing visits, a proactive solution to family disconnection during periods of incarceration; and the appointment of dedicated transition wellbeing officers in community wellbeing centres to assist individuals returning to the community following detention.
Click here to access the final report of the Keeping on Country Recidivism project. For additional discussion of the research and JR work currently taking place in Doomadgee see the following article:
- Dawes, Glenn, Andrea Davidson et al (2017) ‘Keeping on Country: understanding and responding to crime and recidivism in remote Indigenous communities’ (2017) 52(4) Australian Psychologist 306-315
Doomadgee and Mornington Island Site Updates March – June 2019
- Glenn Dawes and Andrea Davidson have just published a paper about J/R which talks about Doomadgee and Mornington Island: Glenn Desmond Dawes & Andrea Davidson (2019): A framework for developing justice reinvestment plans for crime prevention and offender rehabilitation in Australia’s remote indigenous communities, Journal of Offender Rehabilitation.