Building Knowledge of Consumer Participation in Criminal Justice in Australia: A Case Study
This exploratory study investigates the various factors to be considered when developing and implementing consumer participation in community-based criminal justice settings. The study uses the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO), based in Melbourne, Australia, as its case study site as this organisation is in the process of formally introducing consumer participation. The study is informed by previous research in key areas related to criminal justice, focusing on the perspectives of various stakeholders: staff, volunteers, and consumers. A mixed method approach offered a range of opportunities for participants to engage with the research. Thematic analysis identified multi-layered issues need to be considered when implementing consumer participation. Poor individual understanding was noted as a barrier, alongside a limited shared vision of the concept. These were seen to be influenced by practical issues such as high staff turnover and conceptual challenges, notably the existing discourse around offenders. The implications of these findings for further research on consumer participation in the criminal justice setting are explored.
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