Indigenous People and Criminal Justice Education

Kerry Wimshurst, Griffith University, Nathan
Elena Marchetti, Griffith University

ABSTRACT
Over the past decade Australian universities have established degrees for those who wish to work in some area of the criminal justice system, such as policing and correctional services. This paper will report the findings of a project exploring the sensitivity of undergraduates to issues of race and diversity. The project investigates the knowledge and beliefs that criminal justice students bring with them to university, their readiness for content that focuses on Aboriginality, and whether their views change in ways over time.

State and Federal governments of late have started to invest considerable resources, energy and rhetoric into the pursuit of 'reconciliation' -- however, Aboriginal people remain vastly over-processed by the criminal justice system. Indeed, an eminent criminologist has said that the Australian criminal justice system itself is "a major institutional cause of the tearing, bleeding rift between black and white communities". Yet, the whole area remains something of an orphan in criminal justice education and we know little about the attitudes that graduates take into the workplace. It seems that programs often touch upon relationships between Aboriginality and criminal justice, but there tends to be less rigour in handling the complexities and parameters of the problem.

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Updated 05/20/2006