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, 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

    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

    North Queensland Primary Healthcare Network

    Research Support for Suicide Prevention Planning and Implementation

    Indicative funding: $150,000

    This project requires support for community coalitions in north Queensland to develop capacities to prepare a suicide prevention plan for the region from Mackay to the Cape and Torres district in four Hospital and Health Service (HHS) areas: Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Hinterland and the Torres and Cape HHSs.

    Chief Investigators: Alan Clough [Fellow], Nerina Caltabiano and Caryn West (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and College of Healthcare Sciences)

    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

    North Queensland Primary Health Network

    YETI - Radio practice audit

    Indicative funding: $70,000 over 2 years administered by Cairns Youth Empowered Towards Independence Inc.

    1. Provide a formal design for the practice audit and prepare applications for relevant approvals. 2. Brief the reference group by providing progressive updates of results of the audit. 3. Design and establish an information collection system specifically tailored for the program goals and for the group of new AOD clients (in collaboration with yourself and the clinical support person). 4. Compile information from at least the following sources: a. Routine surveys of program managers b. Staff logs c. Client intake and follow-up assessments summarised and described d. Client feedback forms e. Notes from reference group meetings f. Service databases, in particular RADIO g. Others as required.

    Chief Investigators: Alan Clough [Fellow] and Kristy Grant (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)

    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 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)

    Australian Communications Consumer Action Network - Australian Communications Consumer Action Network Grant

    Connectivity and digital inclusion in Far North Queensland agricultural communities

    Indicative funding: $36,000

    This research investigates consumer needs and issues relating to provision and use of internet services in rural and remote Australia, in particular remote station owners in the Northern Gulf, Far North Queensland (FNQ). Provision of adequate and needs-driven connectivity infrastructure and services - along with essential knowledge and skills ("digital ability") to apply connectivity to achieve economic and social outcomes for individuals, families, businesses and communities - is essential to the development of Northern Australia, which is both a State and Federal priority. This research will give a voice to consumers who are among the most digitally excluded in Australia.

    Chief Investigators: Allan Dale, Amber Marshall, and Jennifer McHugh (Cairns Institute) with Research Advisor, Michael Dezuanni (Queensland University of Technology), and Industry Partner, Kathy Rowling (Drought Ambassador for Northern Gulf Resource Management Group)

    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 [Cairns Institute Adjunct], Narayan Gopalkrishnan [Cairns Institute Fellow] 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

    James Cook University New Professor Grant

    An investigation of sustainable practices at James Cook University and beyond: Co-constructing alternative futures 

    Indicative funding: $25,000

    The project aims to examine – and then look beyond – the complex and often compromised nature of sustainable practices across four contexts: James Cook University (Townsville, Cairns and Singapore); The Townsville and Cairns City Councils; and local schools.  This project addresses the long-standing question of why sustainable practices have largely failed to have a consistent impact on the core processes of achieving sustainable societies. The overarching aim of the project is to identify the socio-sustainable and socio-technical adjustments that might be made across these sites to facilitate ‘better’ sustainable practices. Using an innovative combination of large-scale surveying and critical participatory co-design, the project will:

    1. provide insights into why sustainable practices are often not being used to their full potential; and
    2. actively collaborate in designing, experimenting and constructing alternatives through gamification.

    Investigators: Chris Walsh (Cairns Institute Social and Environmental Justice Theme Leader), Helen Boon (Cairns Institute Fellow), Hilary Whitehouse, Anne Stephens (Cairns Institute Researcher), Maxine Newlands (Cairns Institute Fellow), Adam Connell (TropEco), David King (College of Science & Engineering) and Dr Aoife McLoughlin (JCU Singapore)    

    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)

    Touch Community Services

    Prevalence, perceptions, motivations of and response to cyberbullying among adolescents in Singapore

    Indicative funding: $16,569

    This study seeks to understand the prevalence, perceptions and motivations of cyberbullying among adolescents as well as the coping behaviours, mental and emotional well-being of adolescent victims of cyberbullying among Singapore youths aged 10-16 years old. This study will also inform the design of research-based cyber wellness prevention and intervention programmes.

    Chief Investigators: Margaret Anne Carter, Komla Tsey, Marion Heyeres, Carrie Lui (Adjunct) and Stella Teo (College of Arts, Society & Education and TOUCH Community Services)

    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 [Cairns Institute Fellow]

    Asian Association of Social Psychology - Small Group Meetings

    Serving the underserved in the tropics: Making a difference with positive psychology

    Indicative funding: $11,427

    As the first AASP (mini) conference focusing on serving the underserved in the tropics, the proposed mini conference aims to address this gap to promote making a difference in tropical Asia with positive psychology. The themes of the mini conference include: * mental health and psychological wellbeing in the tropics; * projudice, discimination and structural inequality; * individual and community resilience.

    Chief Investigators: Wendy Li (Fellow), Kerry McBain and Smita Singh (College of Healthcare Sciences)

    The Faster Forward Fund - The Faster Forward Fund

    Evaluation of pilots of the Inclusive Systemic Evaluation (ISE) Guidance

    Indicative funding: $9,756 over 2 years

    Dr Anne Stephens and Dr Ellen Lewis are research partners. Dr Stephens is based at JCU (Australia). Dr Lewis University of Hull (UK). In 2016 they collaborated with UN Women's Independent Evaluation Office to develop the Inclusive Systemic Evaluation (ISE) Approach for Gender Equality, Environments, and voices from the Margins (GEMs): A Guidance for Evaluators for the SDG Era (hereon known as the ISE Guidance). The guidance is a UN Women resource with a comprehensive 8 chapter online and published book to support practitioners gain both theoretical and practical skills to apply systemic evaluation to their practice. The Guidance is a practical tool to support the future provisions of people with serious unmet needs, whether physical, social, economic, educational, or political. It contains a dozen tools, examples of practice and other resources. The Guide is being piloted in various sites across the globe. This project will conduct a meta-evaluation of various pilot studies around the guide featuring different uses and efforts with the ISE methodology.

    Chief Investigators: Anne Stephens [Adjunct] and Ellen Lewis (College of Arts, Society & Education and University of Hull)

    Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

    How midwifery students at a university in PNG understand, experience and manage the provision of care to women following stillbirth

    Indicative Funding: $3,000

    This study will describe and theorise the understanding of stillbirth and experiences of providing care to women following stillbirth with a cohort of midwifery students at a university in Papua New Guinea. The study will document social, cultural, spiritual and professional factors that inform the provision of care fro the perspective of midwifery students who have been maternal healthcare providers prior to enrolment. The study will contribute to the body of knowledge on stillbirth experiences in resources limited and complex social and cultural settings, and enhance collaboration between JCU and Pacific Adventist University.

    Investigators: Karen Cheer [Postgraduate Fellow], Komla Tsey, David MacLaren and Jenny Kelly (College of Arts, Society & Education and College of Medicine & Dentistry)

    Far North Qld Hospital Foundation

    Rates of renal failure in Indigenous Australians admitted to ICU

    Indicative funding: $861

    Current research indicates that Indigenous Australians are younger and have higher severity of illness scores when admitted to ICU. We sought to identify why some people develop renal failure in an acute setting.

    Chief Investigator: Susan Jacups (Cairns Institute Adjunct)


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