Yolie Swinkels Yolie Swinkels Criminologist

P.O. Box 158, Trinity Beach, Qld 4879
Telephone: 0400 824 677

Email: Yolie@dryolieswinkelscriminologist.com

 

I was interested in criminology long before it was made popular on TV. In fact I had some problems even finding a course in criminology, (most enquiries made me feel I had asked some obscure question!) and when I finally found one, it was only available at (post) graduate level.  

Hence I decided to complete my Bachelor Degree, majoring in Sociology and Anthropology with a number of Psychology components thrown in for good measure. 

I then continued my studies off campus and obtained a  Post Graduate Degree in Aboriginal studies before switching to a Post Graduate Degree in Criminology (also off campus).  

Once I completed the Criminology Degree, I quickly enrolled for a  Masters Degree  in Criminology. I was working in a full time capacity at a Correctional Centre near Cairns (as well as being a single mum) so I decided to write my minor Master thesis on recidivism: my material was simply waiting for  me in the workplace! Consequently, I managed to complete my Masters in record time. 

Soon after completing my Masters, I broke my spine. In order to walk again, major surgery was required as well as extended bed rest. Consequently, I successfully applied for a PhD at RMIT and conducted most of my research lying in bed letting my fingers glide over the computer key board!  I asked friends to retrieve library books for me, I compiled and  sent out questionnaires. I accumulated stacks of data until my sick bed resembled an overcrowded office! I had no distractions and I managed to complete my PhD well within the allocated four years.  

In July 2005 this doctoral thesis (Restorative Justice in Cairns and Cape York: Community Based Justice in Urban and Remote Communities) was given front page coverage by the Cairns Post.

Apart from the PhD, Masters and BA, I also hold a Diploma in Abnormal Psychology, a Diploma in Professional Counselling, a six month Diploma in Criminal Law and a number of Language Diploma’s and certificates. I am a qualified TESOL teacher and a (Queensland ) Justice of the Peace (Qual).  In December 2012 I received a High Distinction in Offender Profiling at Monash University. In that same year I submitted a Profile on a ‘cold case’ which is currently being re-investigated.

I have been employed in the justice fields since 1996. I have vast experience working with indigenous people in a variety of settings including youth justice, prison, Cape York, Cairns Institute's research, child protection in remote Arnhem Land.

I have held leadership roles and provided student mentoring and counselling  during the course of my career in justice. As a researcher in criminology (Cairns Institute) I covered subjects including youth justice, taser guns, indigenous crime, youth gangs, substance abuse, human rights, child protection and restorative justice. 

Probably the most interesting position I have had thus far, was with the Northern Territory Families and Children in Darwin, Northern Territory. This position was created with funding from the NT Intervention and its aim was to drastically reduce child abuse incidences in remote areas in the Northern Territory. I was employed as Advanced Practitioner, Child Protection and my job included regular flights in tiny, tiny aircraft to remote indigenous communities in  Western Arnhem Land, where we investigated child protection issues, conducted interviews and assessments re adult offenders. We Also provided counselling and support to families at risk across Arnhem Land. Even though the nature of the work could be quite distressing, it was also a truly amazing experience to observe traditional indigenous people in a fascinating. isolated and remote landscape. 

As mentioned before, a part of my PhD was published by the Cairns Post in July 2005. Further publications include ‘Youth Justice Matters in Aurukun 2003-2004’. Commissioned by a government Department in 2005, this Report was also published in numerous newspapers at various times during 2005 and 2006. The Aurukun Report, an analysis of youth justice matters in Aurukun, reflected on a dysfunction of juvenile justice and child protection services in Far North Queensland.

Following is a synopsis of the thesis. Currently I am working on submissions based on the thesis to the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology and to the Indigenous Law Bulletin.

 

PhD Thesis

Ph.D. (Applied Criminology) at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Title: Restorative Justice Cairns and Cape York: community-based justice in urban and remote communities. The thesis researches juvenile offenders particularly in relation to Community Conferencing and Community Justice Groups in remote areas of North Queensland. 

 This investigation evaluated efforts to reduce juvenile recidivism through pilot community conferencing programs in Far North Queensland. Its most significant finding was that 70% of community conferencing participants did not re-offend in the 2-year pilot period. This compares favourably with re-offending rates for clients of the juvenile courts.

Findings include:

1. In relation to Youth Justice Conferencing: participants expressed a very high level of satisfaction with the process and outcomes and there is strong evidence that victims and offenders judge restorative practice as fair.
2. There appears to be very little difference between the rates of recidivism in terms of ethnicity
3. The total number of court appearances by indigenous juveniles, in the two-year research period (2001-2003), was equivalent to 88% of the indigenous juvenile population. By contrast, the equivalent figure for the non-indigenous population is 3.6%, a ration of 24:1.
4. 83.9 % of all offenders appearing in Court have appeared before the court on at least one prior occasion.
5. There are successful indigenous diversionary schemes like the Community Justice Groups in some aboriginal communities in Queensland, and that the success of this diversionary process is the success of self-determination.

Despite research into the high number of aboriginal deaths in custody and subsequent attempts to address the issue, the statistics still reveal the need for a much greater impact on the contributing factors of indigenous juvenile offending.

Indigenous people in the northern region represent 17% of all indigenous people in Qld, and 7.1% of the regions total population. Relatively, the indigenous population is large and provisions of services for indigenous Australians is therefore an important issue in this region. The thesis talks about the need to consult with indigenous communities and a holistic approach in addressing problems relating to health and education..

The thesis talks about the need to recognize the importance of culturally appropriate means and approaches to juvenile offending as crucial for a means of crime control. It discusses historical and political dispossession, the removal of children, emotional and physical health problems, welfare dependency- alcoholism. In many cases there is a lack of a cohesive Aboriginal community. We need to address cultural issues concerning violence related to high alcohol consumption. Domestic violence may be seen as an integral part of inner relationships.

Regardless of the level of success of conferencing, the expectations should be realistic about the likely impact of a one to two hour intervention in the life of a juvenile, whose life experiences in many cases, will have been dictated by the vicious cycle of their socio-economic status. For indigenous offenders in particular, it is impossible to ignore violence in the communities, and to stop the violence cycle, a lot more is needed than a single response in the shape of a conference. Because the inequalities experienced by indigenous people restrict their lifestyle choices, the wider patterns of physical and social environment of the offender must be considered in effectively addressing the offending behaviour. The thesis further discusses the disadvantaged position of this minority group as a major contributing factor to an offending life style.

View entire Thesis here

For more information on this theses contact the author via email on Yolie@dryolieswinkelscriminologist.com

-This PhD is the intellectual property of Dr Y Swinkels. For further details contact RMIT, Melbourne, Victoria.-

 


 

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