Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities

Abstract

Using qualitative self-reported and observational evidence combined with a quantitative breakdown of linked administrative justice system data, this before-and-after study demonstrates the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign in six rural and remote communities in New South Wales, Australia. The most significant quantitative finding is a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found  an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign.. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

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Published: 2022-05-15
Section:Online First
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How to Cite
Beetson, J., Anderson, P., Lin, S., Williamson, F., Amazan, R., Boughton, B., Morrell, S., Taylor, R., & Schwartz, M. (2022). Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.2201

Author Biographies

Literacy for Life Foundation
 Australia

Jack Beetson is a Ngemba man from North Western NSW, Australia who has worked nationally and internationally in First Nations adult education for over four decades. He is currently the Executive Chairperson of the Literacy for Life Foundation, the Co-Chair of Justice Re-invest NSW and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at the University of New England. He was a Partner Investigator on the ARC Linkage Project which part-funded this study.

Lowitja Institute
 Australia

Pat Anderson (AO) is an Alyawarre woman known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples. She is the Chairperson of both the Lowitja Institute and the Council of the Bachelor Institute for Indigenous Education and a Director of the Literacy for Life Foundation. She was a Partner Investigator on the ARC Linkage Project which part-funded this study.

UNSW Sydney
 Australia

Sophia Lin is a public health specialist with research experience in epidemiology, social determinants of health, international and Indigenous Australian settings. Much of her current research involves evaluating and assessing the impacts of population-level programs that aim to change health and social wellbeing outcomes.

Literacy for Life Foundation
 Australia

Frances Williamson is a researcher with the Literacy for Life Foundation, exploring the role of literacy as a social determinant of health. Drawing on her background in applied linguistics, sociology and adult learning, Frances uses collaborative and narrative-based methodologies to support remote Indigenous communities to document and sustain the impacts of adult literacy campaigns.

UNSW Sydney
 Australia

Rose Amazan has extensive experience working with low SES communities in Australia and internationally. Her expertise resides in two strands of research: social justice in education/pathways to educational equity and international education and development policy with an emphasis on gender.  

The University of New England
 Australia

Bob Boughton is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Education at the University of New England. Since 2012, he has been researching and evaluating the Literacy for Life Foundation adult literacy campaign in Aboriginal communities in NSW. He was the lead Chief Investigator on the ARC Linkage Project which part-funded this study.

UNSW Sydney
 Australia

Stephen Morrell has nearly 30 years’ experience in public health research as a biostatistician and epidemiologist. His methodological expertise is in statistical inference and modelling, study design, and evaluation of health interventions. 

UNSW Sydney
 Australia

Richard Taylor is Professor Emeritus of International and Public Health. With a career spanning over 30 years, he has extensive experience as an epidemiologist and as a clinician in Australia and internationally. He has over 450 publications, which often involve evaluation of public health interventions using quantitative methods (implementation research). 

UNSW Sydney
 Australia

Melanie is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law and Justice, University of New South Wales. She is currently a Chief Investigator on three research grants which explores alternative punishments to imprisonment; access to justice for Indigenous people in civil and family law; and  the role of the judge in facilitating access to justice when interpreters are used in the criminal courtroom. She has recently completed three further research grants exploring the civil and family law needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia (http://www.jcu.edu.au/ilnp/), the Australian Justice Reinvestment Project (www.justicereinvestment.unsw.edu.au) investigating the potential for a justice reinvestment approach to reducing incarcerating levels in the Australian context, and the Youth Punishment Project (www.cypp.unsw.edu.au), exploring our attitudes to the punishment of young people.