Today I flew into Canberra. I forgot how people here are obsessed with Australian politics – and rugby. As we waited at the slowest luggage carousel in history (my bag was literally the last one through the rubber curtain before the airport powered down the carousel and switched off the lights), I was surrounded by people greeting each other as old friends and conversations about sitting days and voting. I presumed they were all political advisers or some such, talking about the marriage equality legislation. I mused about the possibility of being in Canberra on the day the legislation goes through. That will be an historic day.
I am in Canberra this week to give a presentation at the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference (#ANZSOC2017) on research translation. Broadly speaking, research translation is about using the best evidence to drive effective policies and practices of – or funded by – government.
My presentation is partly sponsored by the YWCA Adelaide through a Great Ydeas grant. The YWCA aims to build strong and equitable communities through the development of women’s leadership, and the project aims to provide linkage and research translation services to criminology researchers, practitioners, media and government to promote evidence-based criminal justice policy and practice.
I am interested in how we advocate for change to ensure we have evidence-based crime policy, to persuade others of the truth and to use tools like social media to change the crime conversation. In changing minds, the language we use is important, as is appealing to people’s sense of decency (see Cook & Lewandowsky, 2012). Criminologists can learn from social change advocates, such as the Equality Campaign which recognised that ‘words matter’. Its campaign focused on equality and love. Their pitch was about fairness and human rights (‘All Australians should be treated equally under the law’); togetherness, ‘a fair go’ and not this idea of us and them: ‘the other’.
Similarly, if we want a better future for both victims of crime and offenders, if we really want a safer community, we must recognise that this can only be achieved together.