Community-based approaches to sexual offender reintegration
The qualitative research involved interviews with offenders supported through the programs, program staff/Elders, volunteers, victims/survivors and service providers.
Circles of Support and Accountability was shown to help participants build new identities as non-offenders, while holding members to account by providing them with a network of community-based volunteers. The CMP works with released Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders, building strong and positive non-offending cultural identities with a focus on connections with family, culture and Country.
Victims/survivors were consulted on the effectiveness of the reintegration programs. While views were diverse, victims/survivors said that these programs help increase their sense of safety as the perpetrator is being monitored by services who are able to report concerns.
This research indicates that by contributing to community safety, the programs are an important investment in the wellbeing of women who have experienced sexual violence.
Recommendations include funding for the expansion of these programs, followed by support for a larger-scale evaluation.
Victims/survivors who were interviewed also called for strategies that:
- physically distance victims/survivors from offenders
- provide victims/survivors with information on the release of offenders
- offer pathways to affordable and accessible therapeutic interventions for both victims/survivors and perpetrators
- ensure monitoring of perpetrators and provide them with help addressing their offending-related needs.
These safety needs were found to align closely with the goals of the two programs that were studied.
Associate Professor Kelly Richards, Queensland University of Technology
Associate Professor Kieran McCartan, University of the West of England
Dr Jodi Death, Queensland University of Technology
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative, Cultural Mentoring Program
Ms Carol Ronkin, Bravehearts Foundation
Mr Leigh Garrett, Offenders Aid and Rehabilitation Service of South Australia
Senior representative, Queensland Corrective Services
Funded by Commonwealth Department of Social Services.