What is the efficacy of long-term, holistic, case-work driven, community based reintegration and post-release support? This paper will outline the preliminary findings from a two-year mixed-methods research study into the outcomes and experiences for clients of the Community Restorative Centre (CRC). There are five components of the research that this paper will unpack.
1. A retrospective data analysis for all clients who participated on CRC programs between 2014 and 2017 utilising NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) data to track contact with the criminal justice system.
2. A matched comparison study with the UNSW MHDCD linked dataset to explore outcomes for clients with mental health diagnoses and cognitive disability.
3. Qualitative in-depth interviews with current CRC clients and staff
4. Tracking health and well-being of existing clients via administration of the of Substance Use Recovery Evaluator (SURE) survey
5. A cost-benefit analysis of CRC programs.
In 2018, CRC (in partnership with the University of New South Wales) successfully applied for funding from NSW Health to conduct an evaluation of CRC programs to be carried out over two years. The impetus for conducting this research was a desire to both better understand the outcomes for CRC clients post participation in programs, but also to more comprehensively document and evaluate specific aspects of the service delivery design. Community sector organisations are required by funding bodies to provide evidence as to the efficacy of their programs, but are rarely resourced to adequately do this. It is frequently also the case that research design and data collection is driven by funding body requirements, which are not always compatible with, or meaningful to, people who are delivering the services, and more significantly, people who are using them. This research study is our approach to using quantitative and qualitative methodologies to build a comprehensive picture of the impact and outcomes for people leaving custody who receive support via CRC.
Mindy Sotiri BSW (UNSW) PhD (UNSW) has worked in prisoner reintegration and post-release support for twenty years. She has been in her current role for the last seven years, and in this capacity has been responsible for researching, developing and implementing evidence based best-practice with complex needs populations across a range of different program areas. Mindy serves on the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Board, is currently the community sector representative on the multi-agency High Risk Offender Assessment Committee, and is regularly called on to provide expert advice on community based post-release to both government and the NGO sector. In 2016 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to continue her research into best practice in post release in the international context.
Dr Ruth McCausland is Senior Research Fellow and Director of Evaluation for the Yuwaya Ngarra-li partnership between UNSW and the Dharriwaa Elders Group. Her research focuses on young people, women, people with disabilities and Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system and the social determinants of justice. Ruth's PhD was on evaluation and the diversion of Aboriginal women from prison in NSW, and she also has a Masters in International Social Development and BA (Hons 1). Ruth has worked as an evaluation consultant for government and non-government agencies. She was previously a senior researcher at Jumbunna, UTS, and research and policy officer at the Australian Human Rights Commission and NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. Ruth is Chair of the Board of the Community Restorative Centre.