Current postgraduate research


PhD Research
Student Research Topic School/Centre
Berindah Aicken
You Choose Dumb or Bad? Narrative Identity of People with Cognitive Impairment who Offend

This study aims to explore and understand how men with cognitive impairment (CI) who offend come to know that they have CI, how disability (whether labelled or not) has been experienced across the life span and how such impairment is constructed and understood systemically, through the documentation associated with individuals during the process of their incarceration. This qualitative study explored the way in which disability and offending intersect in the experience of the individual who becomes incarcerated through in-depth life story sessions.  Document analysis was used to explore how CI is constructed within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) as observed in documents held by the New South Wales Correctional Service relating to the individual participants. Together these two approaches provide data which sheds light on the relationship between the individual and institutional constructions of disability for PwCIwO.

Melanie Burton

"Masculinities and The Careers of Sex Offenders" (Anne Cossins/Jesse Cale/Gary Edmond)

Holly Blackmore
'Investigating the effect of emotion and information on public attitudes towards restorative justice' - See more at:
'Investigating the effect of emotion and information on public attitudes towards restorative justice' - See more at:
'Investigating the effect of emotion and information on public attitudes towards restorative justice' - See more at:
'Investigating the effect of emotion and information on public attitudes towards restorative justice' - See more at:

Holly’s doctoral research explores how victims’ wellbeing is affected following serious crime, whether their wellbeing changes over time, and whether it is influenced by participation in a restorative justice (RJ) or non-RJ intervention. The research tracks the recovery and wellbeing of victims of serious crime by measuring their psychological wellbeing, as well as positive and negative post-trauma outcomes (post-traumatic growth and post-traumatic stress symptoms). The victim-offender conferencing program conducted by the Restorative Justice Unit in Corrective Services NSW is the RJ program being investigated by this project. This quasi-experimental research employs a mixed-method approach, utilising semi-structured interviews and self-report psychological measures across three points in time, in order to measure any changes to victims’ wellbeing. This research will contribute to our understanding of post-trauma outcomes and the wellbeing of victims of serious crime, to the methodological literature,and to RJ theory and practice. (Supervisors: Janet Chan/Jane Bolitho)

Souheir Edelbi 'Arab regionalism and the limits of the universalist approach to international criminal law' (Sarah Williams/Fleur Johns) Law
James Farrell 'The criminalisation of begging in contemporary Australia' Law
Leah Findlay

'Be afraid - or very entertained: Media coverage of criminal trials and consumption of crime' (Jill Hunter/Alyce McGovern)

Kirin Hilliar

Cross-race identification

The cross-race effect (CRE) refers to the tendency for people to be worse at recognising cross-race faces compared to same-race faces (the “they all look the same to me” effect), and it has attracted a lot of research attention due to its implications for cross-race eyewitness identifications. Much of this research adopts a ‘perceptual-expertise’ perspective of the CRE, which emphasises the ability of people to properly attend to and encode the features of cross-race faces. My research however has adopted a more social-cognitive approach. Specifically, I am investigating how stereotypes and expectations can influence the subsequent processing (and later recognition) of own-race and cross-race faces. It is hoped that with a better understanding of this neglected area we can devise more effective strategies that minimise the CRE and its negative effects on cross-racial interactions.


Thea Gumbert-Jourjon

' Unreasonable doubts? Improving juror decision-making and comprehension le legal procedures in child sexual abuse trials' (Annie Cossins/Jane Goodman-Delahunty/Julie Stubbs)

Michael Holohan

'Admissibility of forensic comparison evidence' (Gary Edmond/Mehera San Roque)

The 2009 National Research Council (NRC) Report, ‘Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward’, concluded that there are serious issues regarding the capacity and quality of the current forensic science system, yet, the courts continue to rely on forensic evidence without fully understanding and addressing the limitations of different forensic science disciplines.

The focus of Michael’s research is the admissibility of forensic comparison evidence, such as foot and shoe impression evidence, tool marks and facial mapping. The research will examine the Australian court’s use of forensic comparative evidence, although it has and continues to be demonstrated as being unreliable or weak. The research will examine the recent United Kingdom case of R v T [2011] 1 Cr. App. R. 9 and its potential to effect the admissibility of this evidence in both Australian common law (Qld) and statutory evidence law jurisdictions in the future. The research will identify the court’s responses to the US’s National Research Council report Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009) in criminal jurisdictions nationally and overseas . The research will also examine the recent NSWCCA decisions in the matters of Wood and Gilham and pending Queensland cases. This research will consider how the evidence produced by these forensic disciplines should be treated prior to admission at trial. It will investigate whether this evidence ought to be subject to the same scrutiny as that experienced by DNA in the early phases of its admission.

Melissa Jardine

'Policing in a changing Vietnam' (Janet Chan/David Dixon)

Vietnam has undergone significant social and economic transition since the economic renovation (Doi Moi) period in the 1980s. Whilst economic development brought many benefits, opening the nation’s borders had ramifications for public security in the post-French colonial and post-Vietnam-American War era. Of particular concern for the public police (People’s Police Force), are issues including severe traffic congestion, increasing drug use and sex work (behaviours that transgress moral norms in Vietnam), human trafficking, and new possibilities for economic crimes e.g. corruption and money laundering. Police are adapting to these changing conditions, positively, e.g. through learning new skills and applying new technology, and negatively, e.g. through increased avenues for corruption. Internationally, many police organisations have pursued a ‘professional’ model of policing – even though there is no agreement on what professionalisation actually means among scholars. This research will examine how professionalism of police is officially defined, furthermore, it will investigate factors that facilitate or impede the pursuit of police professionalisation in Vietnam.

Sharyn Jenkins

 'The potential role for restorative justice to improve victim outcomes in situations where the perpetrator is or belongs to a non-legal entity' (Christopher Michaelsen/Jane Bolitho

Maria Kevin
‘PRISONERS AND DRUGS: Patterns, Profiles and Pathways to Criminal Recidivism’

This research sets out to address deficits in our understanding of the relationship between drugs and crime. Different profiles of drug-related offenders will be investigated as will their relative risk factors for reoffending. The research aims to inform crime prevention and intervention strategies for drug offenders according to theirreoffending risk profiles



Megan McElhone

'Does the NSW Police Force's Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad compromise the implementation of community policing?' (Michael Grewcock/ Vicki Sentas/David Dixon)

The New South Wales Police Force committed to rebuilding its organisational mandate upon the tenets of community policing nearly three decades ago. However, in recent years the Force has also instated ethnically-targeted policing squads within its State Crime Command (SCC), including a Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad (MEOCS). The objective of Megan’s research is to investigate whether the operations of the MEOCS are compatible with the Force’s charter to implement community-oriented policing strategies in New South Wales.

Elizabeth McEntyre
But-ton Kidn Doon-ga : Black Women Know - representing the lived experiences of Australian Indigenous women with mental health and wellbeing issues and /or cognitive disabilities in criminal justice systems.
This Aboriginal informed research unravels why Australian Indigenous women with mental health, wellbeing and cognitive impairment (including intellectual disability and acquired brain injury) concerns are coming into contact with the criminal justice system, including the police, courts and prison, at much higher rates than are other groups and than their rates in the general community would predict.
Katherine McFarlane

An examination of the trajectories and drift of children in care to the criminal justice system in New South Wales

People who have been in the care of the State as children historically make up from 0.1% to 0.2% of the general population. Yet they make up 1:5 non-Indigenous prisoners and 1:3 Indigenous prisoners, comprising approximately 38% of all prisoners in NSW. The thesis analyses the reasons for the involvement in the NSW criminal justice system of children in out of home care.

Nicola McGarrity,  Australia's terrorism trials: A new model of criminal justice' w
Catriona McComish

Women in prison: an increasing population: A study of the contributions of gender, crime and mental illness

Over the last 25 years, across western countries, there has been a marked growth in prison populations accompanied by a climbing numbers of people incarcerated with mental health disorders and cognitive deficits. A related phenomenon is the particularly significant increase in the rate of incarceration of women. Within the population identified as having mental health disorders, women are over-represented and the severity of their mental health disorders is greater. There are two stages to this research: a quantitative approach using data linkage of client records across the criminal justice, social support and health systems to analyse the pathways of an identified cohort of women and men into and out of prison; and narrative interviews with people currently in custody who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. The study proposes to examine the impact of labelling and stigmatisation upon women in the criminal justice system and in particular the extent that their subjective reactions to imprisonment and diagnosis explain variation in subsequent offending and return to prison. 

Elizabeth Ockenden Visual evidence and visual literacy


Mathew O'Reilly

Understanding how high-level drug traffickers operate in Australia (Dr Caitlin Hughes, Dr Jenny Chalmers)

Knowledge about drug suppliers, including traffickers, is slim. This stymies our capacity to understand, foresee and forewarn what Australian and international drug traffickers will do and what policy responses are likely to be most effective. This project aims to increase understanding about the machinations of high-level drug trafficking and drug supply in Australia. The project is divided into two principal components:

1.    Using unpublished data from Australian Customs and Border Protection Service trends in the importation and distribution of cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamine over the past 12-15 years will be analysed to identify changes in the scale of supply, modes of supply and supply routes

2.    Serious drug offenders in NSW prisons, sentenced for offences involving MDMA trafficking, will be interviewed about an array of questions regarding their experience and knowledge of the illicit drug trade.



Amy Pisani 'Reconsidering processes of agenda setting: Social media’s evolving role in setting the terrorism agenda’ FASS
Fadi Rabia Police corruption in Palestine: A comparative study


Suman Saha The (in)visibility of sex workers and their rights in India


Paula Saunders Bullying in the workplace


Christopher Shanahan Jury decision making and story models


Kathryn Smithers 'Perceptions of NSW police officers about the approach, operation and effectiveness of the NSW Child Protection Register' (Anne Cossins/Julie Stubbs) Law
Glenn Took Drug Courts and Penal Change

Social Sciences & International Studies
Bruno Van Aaken The narratives of men and women leaving prison:  An intersectoral analysis.
It appears that intersectoral dynamics of race and gender may play a significant role in the barriers to and opportunities for ex-prisoners to “desist” from reoffending. The relationship between these intersectoral dynamics and paradigms of post-release from prison support has not been explored in any systematic and comprehensive way. This study therefore explores the narratives of the experience of men and women, Indigenous and non-Indigenous,at the intersection of race and gender during the critical period immediately post release from prison.
Amanda Wilson

A recipe for Inequality? Gender and Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Criminal Justice.

Scarlet Wilcock Scarlet Wilcock, 'How to catch a welfare cheat: Policing welfare fraud in Australia' (Julie Stubbs/Alex Steel) ' Law
Courtney Young 'Not guilty and yet not innocent: Bail reform in the era of mass incarceration' (Julie Stubbs/Vicki Sentas) Law


Masters Research

Student Research Topic School/Centre
Debbie Case Factors affecting family reunification in incestuous families

'This project aims to investigate the relationship between many variables such as level of disclosure provided by participants of the NSW Pre-Trial Diversion of Offenders program (Cedar Cottage), relationship between offender and victim, marital status and reunification of offenders with the family.  Anecdotal clinical evidence suggests that throughout the course of the treatment program participants reveal more information about their abusive conduct than initially stated, and it is expected that this disclosure reaches a level beyond that initially described by the victim.  This study aims to provide empirical investigation of the impact of this trend on non-offending parents and victims wishes of reunification.From a research standpoint, investigation of such issues has important implications for restorative justice and victim oriented treatment approaches”

Sarah Larney Forensic risk among self-injecting drug users


Jessica Pratley NSW Pretrial Diversion of Incest Offenders


Angeline Swan DUMA in NSW


Seckin Ungur

Impediments to successful mediation: The effects of motivation, confidence and role on mediation outcomes.

Litigation is a lengthy, stressful and expensive process. Mediation is widely recognised as a less costly alternative to dispute resolution because it provides the potential for parties to come to mutually acceptable solutions and to address the underlying issues that gave rise to the conflict. However, there is little research on what makes mediation successful, or what the impediments to successful mediation may be. The current study considered the effects of participant motivation (i.e keenness to take part in a mandatory mediation) and overconfidence (about achieving their stated goals) on mediation outcomes in the context of Strata disputes processed by the New South Wales Department of Fair Trading Mediation Services Unit. In addition, the effect of role (being an applicant or a respondent) on mediation outcomes was investigated for the first time. This novel aspect of the research yielded the most interesting results. Although mediation was mandatory, applicants were significantly more eager to mediate and were more confident about achieving their goals, but it was respondents who obtained better outcomes and were more satisfied with the mediation. The findings suggest that applicants’ overconfidence may dispose them to disappointment.  Implications for government policy, practical applications and further research on mediation are discussed.