Social Justice & Community Wellbeing Projects

    Our goal is to assist communities to respond to social and environmental change and increase social inclusion through projects committed to social justice, health and wellbeing.

    Social justice projects

    Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - UPNG/JCU Twinning Project

    Collaborating to advance life in the tropics - building teaching capacity and collaborative research capability in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the broader Asia Pacific region

    To improve the livelihoods of developing nations over generations a university education is essential. Over a 3 year timeframe, the UPNG/JCU Twinning Project is providing a series of learning, teaching and research activities focused on building the research capacity within the two universities.

    Project activities being delivered include:

    • UPNG and JCU staff participating in journal -article writing workshops, early career researcher workshops and research-focused conferences
    • The delivery of JCU’s internationally recognised and Australian accredited Graduate Certificate of Education (Academic Practice) (GCE) to UNPG participants. 

    Investigators: Kathryn Meldrum, Sarah Jane Warne, Vyvyen Wong

    Collaborating universities include the University of Papua New Guinea and James Cook University.  The Project is sponsored by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


    ARC Discovery Project (DP0877331)

    The prison project: Penal culture and the reinvention of the prison in Australia

    Indicative funding: $510,553

    Imprisonment rates have grown dramatically across all Australian jurisdictions over the last 20 years, although the growth has been somewhat uneven between States and Territories. The purpose of the prison project is to examine and explain these developments through an analysis of changes in penal culture. In particular the research will address the question of how the prison has re-emerged from the 1980s to the present as a major feature of contemporary criminal justice policy. The project uses an innovative multidisciplinary approach combining law, criminology, penology and has the potential to provide significant new information for use by policy makers.

    Chief Investigators: Chris Cunneen, David Brown, Mark Brown, Eileen Baldry, Alex Steel

    Collaborating Schools/Institutions: The Cairns Institute; School of Law; University of New South Wales; University of Melbourne

    ARC Linkage Project (LP100200455)

    National research study of the civil and family law needs of indigenous people

    Indicative funding: $466,157 over 4 years, in partnership with Legal Aid Queensland ($15,000 over 3 yrs); Legal Aid Western Australia ($30,000 over 3 yrs); the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (Qld) Ltd ($15,000 over 2 yrs); the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission ($30,000 over 3 yrs) and Victoria Legal Aid ($30,000 over 3 yrs)

    This research will benefit Indigenous communities by improving access and equity in legal services. By identifying and addressing the civil and family law needs of Indigenous people, the research will make a key contribution to improving legal and social justice outcomes. Partner organisations in the research will actively implement the findings to the national benefit, creating more appropriate, accessible and better targeted legal services aimed at meeting identified needs. The research will make an important contribution to the Commonwealth's welfare reform and participation agendas, particularly its Access to Justice Framework as better access to legal services can play an important role in alleviating economic and social disadvantage.

    Investigators: Chris Cunneen, Melanie Schwartz and Larissa Behrendt (College of Business, Law & Governance, The University of New South Wales and University of Adelaide)


    ARC Discovery Project (DP130100184)

    A comparative analysis of youth punishment in Australia and the United Kingdom

    Indicative funding: $429,000

    This project is a comparative Australian and United Kingdom investigation of penal policy and the punishment of juvenile offenders. The research analyses the changing approaches to juvenile incarceration, particularly in the context of perceived effects on crime and the substantial public and social costs of incarceration.

    Principal Investigators: Chris Cunneen, Eileen Baldry, Melanie Schwartz, Barry C Goldson, David B Brown

    Collaborating School/Institution: The Cairns Institute; School of Law; University of New South Wales; University of Liverpool, UK

    ARC Discovery Project (DP130101121)

    Justice reinvestment in Australia: Conceptual foundations for criminal justice innovation

    Indicative funding: $235,000

    This project will examine the characteristics of Justice Reinvestment programs used in other countries which reduce spending on prisons and reinvest the savings in high crime communities to reduce crime and build community services. This study will analyse whether such programs can be developed in the Australian context.

    Chief Investigators: Julie Stubbs, Melanie Schwartz, Chris Cunneen, David Brown

    Collaborating School/Institution: School of Law; The Cairns Institute; University of New South Wales (Administering Organisation)


    ARC Discovery Project (DP170100893)

    Community sanctions in Australian criminal justice

    Indicative funding: $230,000

    This project aims to understand the place of community sanctions in the Australian criminal justice system. At a time of record high imprisonment rates, community sanctions that are alternatives to prison do not have a clear purpose. This limits evaluation of their effectiveness and undermines public confidence in criminal justice. The project will examine the use of community sanctions for Indigenous people, women and people with mental/cognitive impairment in three jurisdictions. This is intended to inform scholarly and public debates and to contribute to policies and practices that reduce inequality and enhance justice.

    Chief Investigators: Professor Julie Stubbs (UNSW), Professor Eileen Baldry (UNSW); Ms Melanie Schwartz (UNSW); Professor Christopher Cunneen (The Cairns Institute; College of Business, Law & Governance); Emeritus Professor David Brown (UNSW)

    Mission Australia - Contract Research

    Stronger together – Cairns South early years collective impact initiative

    Indicative funding: $225,000 over 3 years

    Community Partner Funding: Cairns South and Yarrabah Communities for Children. This project will support the Early Years sector to lead the development of a detailed child development 'agenda' and to establish long-term system improvements that can lead to better support for children and their families in Cairns South.

    Chief Investigators: Professor Allan Dale, Professor Stewart Lockie, Fiona Allison and Jennifer McHugh (The Cairns Institute)


    Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs

    Provision of services in relation to social policy research and evaluation

    Indicative funding: TBA [Panel]

    This project allows The Cairns Institute to provide services to FaCHSIA in one or more of the following categories:

    • Social policy research
    • Evaluation
    • Investment in data
    • Professional development (in research, evaluation, investment in data and policy analysis)

    Chief Investigators: Hurriyet Babacan, Bob StevensonKomla Tsey, Gianna Moscardo, Bruce Prideaux, Sue McGinty, Wendy Earles, Garry Coventry, Roxanne Bainbridge, Narayan Gopalkrishnan, Janya McCalman, Sarah Warne

    Collaborating Schools/Institutions: School of Education; School of Business; School of Indigenous Australian Studies; School of Arts and Social Sciences; The Cairns Institute

    Heart Foundation - Vanguard Grant

    The 'Top End' smoke-free spaces project

    Indicative funding: $65,900 over 2 years

    This feasibility study of an intervention to reduce SHSe in homes will be conducted in one Arnhem Land community in the Northern Territory. To achieve its two objectives will require six months from project initiation. The study will use both qualitative and quantitative methods. Evaluating an intervention to encourage smoke free homes in remote Indigenous communities using a combination of incentives and monitoring of indoor second hand smoke exposure: is an intervention and evaluation study feasible?

    Chief Investigators: Alan Clough [Cairns Institute Reseach Fellow] and Jan Robertson with the help of Vince Mithen and Joy Bhulkanawuy Dhamarrandji (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Aboriginal Resource and Development Services)

    Mind Australia - Contract Research

    Proposal to develop and implement a formative evaluation of the newly established Cairns PARC service

    Indicative funding: $31,835 over 2 years

    This proposal aims to work collaboratively with service managers and other key stakeholders to development and implement a formative evaluation plan for the newly established Cairns prevention and Recovery Care (PARC) service. The expected outcomes of the proposed evaluation are: * a description of the PARC service profile and service use characteristics; * a framework to facilitate continuous quality improvement of PARC; * ensure strategies are in place to collect data over the longer term to assess the extent to which the PARC model as it operates in Cairns constitutes value for money; and * provide additional pilot data for the proposed NHMRC Partnership Grant application.

    Chief Investigators: Komla Tsey, Irina Kinchin, Narayan Gopalkrishnan and Vinnitta Mosby with the help of Steve Morton, Margaret Grigg, Lisa Brophy, J Buchanan

    Collaborating Colleges/Institutions: The Cairns Institute; College of Arts and Society & Education Indigenous Centre; Mind Australia; The University of Melbourne; Cairns & Hinterland Health Service District

    Southern Gulf Catchments

    Social resilience benchmarking in the Southern Gulf region

    Indicative funding: $19,990

    This project will develop the social resilience benchmarking tool with the most current and best available data and evidence, providing a current assessment of the social resilience of the Southern Gulf communities against a set of prescribed indicators, with reference to climate change drivers.

    Investigators: Allan Dale (The Cairns Institute)

    Department of Social Services

    Literature review providing an in-depth overview of existing research on the effects of intercountry adoption on adoptees 

    [Awarded as part of Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs Panel: Provision of services in relation to social policy research and evaluation]

    Indicative funding: $16,200

    This project will provide an in-depth overview the existing research on the effects of intercountry adoption on adoptees. In particular, the experiences of adoptees will be compared to those of other similar groups including migrant, refugees and domestic adoptees, as well as any other relevant control groups.

    Investigator: Susan Gair [Research Fellow]


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