From treatment to prevention working with queensland remote indigenous communities
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From treatment to prevention : Working with Queensland remote Indigenous communities - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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From treatment to prevention : Working with Queensland remote Indigenous communities. Sue Rayment-McHugh Manager Griffith Youth Forensic Service Griffith University Queensland. Griffith Youth Forensic Service.

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From treatment to prevention : Working with Queensland remote Indigenous communities

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From treatment to prevention: Working with Queensland remote Indigenous communities

Sue Rayment-McHugh


Griffith Youth Forensic Service

Griffith University


Griffith Youth Forensic Service

Griffith Youth Forensic Service

  • Partnership between Queensland Department of Communities (Youth Justice Program) and Griffith University’s Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance

  • State-wide field based service provision (Queensland) for youth who have been found guilty of a sexual offence

  • Primary office in Brisbane, satellite office in Cairns

  • Highest risk / needs + regional / remote referrals prioritised

  • Increasing involvement with youth from remote Indigenous communities

  • Over 300 referrals since 2001

    • 85% from outside Brisbane Metropolitan area

    • 35% Indigenous youth

Griffith Youth Forensic Service

Extending intervention with offending youth to primary and secondary prevention

  • GYFS core business is offender treatment – tertiary prevention

    • Ecological practice framework

      • understand youth in the context of their development, their natural ecosystem and the immediate environment in which the offence/s occurred

      • promotes a multi-systemic focus for assessment and treatment activities

      • clinical assessment - discovering why an offence occurred – which contributes to understanding of how it could have been prevented

  • Work within remote Indigenous communities

    • Provided new opportunities to extend tertiary prevention activities to primary and secondary prevention

    • Provision of high quality specialist services to remote communities is a significant challenge throughout Australia and internationally

      • geographic challenges

      • resource limitations

      • professional practice traditionally involves bringing clients to the specialist

    • GYFS reverses this trend and sends practitioners to the client regardless of location (field based)

Griffith Youth Forensic Service

Extending intervention with offending youth to primary and secondary prevention cont..

  • Contextual explanations for offending behaviour

    • State and National Inquiries highlight high rates of sexual abuse within remote Indigenous communities with primarily contextual explanations

    • different environmental contexts rather than increased levels of psychopathology

    • case specific assessments highlight situational and contextual factors as major contributors to offending behaviour

  • Seriously question effectiveness of working primarily at individual level – treatment unlikely to be effective without changes at community level

    • situational and contextual factors major focus of treatment interventions

    • increased understanding of offending in this context increases understanding of prevention needs

  • Involvement in prevention becomes increasingly clear in this context

    • currently limited funding / attention specific to the prevention of sexual abuse in some communities

    • clinical practitioners working with offenders could inform initial prevention efforts by identifying key areas of focus or contribute directly to these activities

  • “Bottom-up” approach to community-level sexual abuse prevention

  • Griffith Youth Forensic Service

    A “bottom-up” approach to prevention

    • Court mandate to work with individual youth and their families

    • Work starts with an ecological assessment and case formulation

      • comprehensive information about factors contributing to the offending behaviour

      • identification of risk and protective factors across individual, family and community systems

    • Collaborative treatment intervention informed by assessment

      • treatment targets factors identified through assessment

      • individually tailored treatment with focus on multi-systemic (individual, family, peer, school and community level) interventions

    • Information about community risk / protective factors in an individual case can directly inform broader locally-tailored prevention efforts targeting the whole community

    • GYFS community level interventions contribute directly to prevention

    Griffith Youth Forensic Service

    GYFS Prevention Activities

    • Engage and collaborate with key community stakeholders (eg. elders, identified community members, agencies, paraprofessionals, professionals) to discuss issues regarding community safety, sexual offending behaviour and the prevention of sexual abuse

    • Facilitate workshops to specifically address issues relating to community safety and the prevention of sexual abuse (12-point Prevention Model)(Smallbone, Marshall & Wortley, 2008)

    • Capacity building activities:

      • collaborative partnerships (Smallbone, Rayment-McHugh, Crissman & Shumack, 2008)

      • consultation

      • formal training (Dadds, Smallbone, Nisbet & Dombrowski, 2003)

    • Direct involvement in some community specific prevention related activities (eg. assistance with community youth activities)

    Griffith Youth Forensic Service

    What is the role of the clinical treatment practitioner in prevention?

    • Historically community focused prevention activities led by advocacy groups not clinical practitioners

    • Typically clinical practitioners funded / employed / trained specifically to focus on provision of treatment to identified youth and their families


    • Specialist knowledge in this field

    • Specific knowledge of contributing factors on case by case (community by community) basis

    • Responsibility to address assessed contributing factors (including community level factors)


    • Clinical treatment practitioners well / best placed to contribute directly to primary and secondary prevention activities

    Griffith Youth Forensic Service

    Example from a Cape York community

    • Factors which contributed to sexual offending behaviour

      • limited education / guidance re appropriate sexual behaviour

      • peer group normalisation of underage sex

      • exposure to community violence

      • significant unstructured time

      • limited supervision at night

      • access to vulnerable children

    • Mapping community prevention ideas

      • increasing public educationabout safety / appropriate sexual behaviour eg. radio segments in local language, community drama / entertainment with safety focus, locally designed brochures, school based safety programs

      • increase availability of formal supervised pro-social recreational activities

      • increase supervision before / during / after community events eg. transport youth home from events, training for place managers

      • increase availability of counselling / support services eg. victim counselling, parent support, mens & womens groups, young parents group

    Griffith Youth Forensic Service

    Prevention in remote Indigenous communities?

    • Common themes between communities yet also uniqueness

      • Northern Territory Intervention

      • “Bottom-Up” approach

        • people on the ground (local community members & professionals) directly informing and contributing to prevention activities

    • Communities That Care(Hawkins & Catalano, 1992; Communities That Care, 1997)

      • Evidence and knowledge based framework for organising prevention activities in a community / co-ordinated and targeted approach

      • Role for clinical practitioners

    • Justice Reinvestment(Calma, 2009)

      • Divert funds otherwise spent on imprisonment and invest in programs / services that address underlying causes of crime

    • Further research needed

      • Baseline measures

      • Increased understanding of sexual offending in identified contexts

        • What happens? Where does it happen? When does it happen? Who is involved? How does it happen? etc

    Griffith Youth Forensic Service

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