Social & Environmental Justice 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: Andrea Lynch, Jennifer Gabriel, 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

    Office for Learning and Teaching - Innovation and Development Grant

    International social work student exchange: Facilitating good practice in Australia and Asia Pacific

    Indicative Funding: $388,000 over 2 years

    Using collaborative and inclusive processes, this project will draw on data from Australian social work education providers and their international partners, to document and analyse current international student exchange practices, highlighting key issues and constraints. Merging this data with a critical literature review, the project will synthesise the knowledge created to develop transferable best-practice models in international student exchange. Focusing on enhancing relationships with the Asia-Pacific, this project aims to document, analyse, develop and disseminate exemplary practices in international social work student exchange. The project will contribute significantly to the development of mutually beneficial international student exchange programs and will support Australian tertiary educators to integrate evidence-led, transferable, good -practice principles into core curricula.

    Investigators: Debra Miles, Nonie Harris, Peter F Jones, Abraham Francis, Narayan Gopalkrishnan [Cairns Institute Fellow] and Ines Zuchowski in collaboration with Hurriyet Babacan [Cairns Institute Adjunct], Julie King, S Rajeev, Piyachat and Linda Briskman (College of Arts, Society & Education, The University of New EnglandQueensland University of TechnologyDe Paul Institute of Science & TechnologyNakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University and Swinburne University of Technology)

    Australian Research Council - Linkage Project

    Gauging the value of flexible learning options for disenfranchised youth and the Australian community

    Indicative Funding: $309,000 over 4 years, in partnership with Brotherhood of St Laurence ($18,000 over 3 yrs); Centacare Townsville ($15,000 over 3 yrs); Northern Territory Department of Education and Children's Services ($19,500 over 3 yrs); the Catholic Education Office ($19,500 over 3 yrs); the Edmund Rice Education Australia ($15,000 over 3 yrs); Victoria University ($6,200 over 2 yrs) and Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development ($18,000 over 3 yrs)

    Flexible learning options (FLOs) for young people who have disengaged from schooling are expected to assist in raising educational attainment, but evidence of their economic and social value to date has been anecdotal. This project gauges the value of FLOs across three Australian states and the Northern Territory with the development of an analytic tool that takes into account the complexity of young people's lives together with their stories into an integrated analysis that provides rigorous evidence. The project develops a superior measurement of outcomes from educational interventions for wider use as well as specific findings to inform policy and practice about young people's access to education.

    Investigators: Sue McGinty, Riccardo Welters [Cairns Institute Theme Leader & Fellow], Brian Lewthwaite [Cairns Institute Fellow], Katarina Te Riele, Val Wallace and Hurriyet Babacan [Cairns Institute Adjunct] in collaboration with Dale Murray, David Murray, Eva Lawler, Mary Retel, George Myconos and Tony McMahon (Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Centre, College of Business, Law & Governance, College of Arts, Society & Education, Victoria University (Melbourne), Cairns Institute, Edmund Rice Education AustraliaVIC Department of Education and Early Childhood DevelopmentNT Department of Education and Childrens ServicesCatholic Education OfficeBrotherhood of St Laurence and Centacare (Catholic Family Services))

    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)


    Palladium International Pty Ltd

    Training for development of teaching and learning at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (TL-UNITECH)

    Indicative funding: $210,970

    The purpose of this program is to provide training to PNG UNITECH staff in teaching and learning and establish the Teaching and Learning Methods Unit (TLMU) as a functional unit driving improvements in contemporary curriculum design, blended learning, student-centred teaching, active learning, and assessment.

    Chief Investigators: Professor Stewart Lockie, Scott Davies, Nick Roberts

    Townsville City Council - Contract Research

    Regional economic development through creative industries

    Indicative Funding: $80,000

    The creative industries are recognised as a key contributor to both developed and developing economies. Supply and demand factors relevant to this sector remain elusive and under-researched, particularly in relation to regional economies in northern Australia. Using the tropical city of Townsville as a case study, this project seeks to identify and map the current capacity of the creative industries (supply), the use of these services (demand), as well as issues affecting the development and retaining of the creative workforce. One of the key outcomes will be a detailed picture of what impact the supply and demand aspects of creative industries have on regional economies.

    Investigators: Ryan Daniel [Cairns Institute Fellow], Riccardo Welters [Cairns Institute Theme Leader & Fellow], Christopher Brennan-Horley, Katja Fleischmann and Susan Luckman in collaboration with Simon Millcock (College of Arts, Society & Education, College of Business, Law & Governance, Queensland University of TechnologyUniversity of WollongongUniversity of South Australia and Townsville City Council)

    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 [Cairns Institute Adjunct], Bob Stevenson [Cairns Institute Adjunct], Komla Tsey, Gianna Moscardo, Bruce Prideaux, Sue McGinty, Wendy Earles, Garry Coventry, Roxanne Bainbridge [Cairns Institute Adjunct, Narayan Gopalkrishnan [Cairns Institute Fellow], Janya McCalman [Cairns Institute Adjunct, 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


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