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Accessing data and conducting research about corrective services

Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) aims to deliver high quality, evidence‑based corrective services, supported by innovation, research and the application of best practices. We therefore welcome productive collaboration with organisations and individual researchers to generate evidence-based knowledge and translate the knowledge into practice.

You have to get permission to conduct research using any of our staff or facilities, offenders under our supervision, or data we hold.

We will generally accept applications from:

  • academics employed by a higher education institution
  • Masters or PhD students
  • health professionals or researchers
  • corrective services employees doing post-graduate study.

Prisoners in custody aren’t allowed to do research that involves contact with other prisoners, offenders or corrective services officers.

We can provide publicly available information to help school students, undergraduates or honours students with assignments or other questions. This includes statistics, data and reviews and reports that are available through our website.

Conducting research with QCS

To conduct your research with QCS, you must apply to conduct research and gain approval from the QCS Research and Evaluation Committee.

The QCS Research and Evaluation Committee is dedicated to supporting ethically sound research initiatives that further our goals of enhancing community safety, rehabilitating offenders and preventing re-offending. The committee is made up of senior QCS executives from key areas of the organisation and oversees all research and evaluation activities involving QCS.

They are responsible for examining proposals for research and evaluation and determining which projects can proceed, by considering aspects such as:

  • feasibility and impact to operations
  • potential value to the existing knowledge base
  • alignment with our Strategic Research Agenda
  • ethical and robust method planned.

Applying for approval

Application timeline

Summary of the approval process and timelines:

  1. Application submitted
  2. Feedback exchange, 2–4 weeks
  3. Committee consideration, 3 weeks (sits quarterly)
  4. Endorsement by executives, 2–4 weeks
  5. Paperwork*, 2–6 weeks
  6. Ready to start

*Criminal history check, custodial awareness training and confidentiality agreements, whichever applicable.

This time frame is estimated only, and will depend on the variety of elements covered by an application.

How to apply

Before you apply, read these documents carefully:

We strongly encourage you to discuss your application with us well before the due date, because discussions about some applications can be time consuming. We try to give productive feedback to help you improve your application, so you have a greater chance of success.

Once ready, email your application and supporting documents to research@corrections.qld.gov.au.

Supporting documents

If you are proposing to conduct research with human subjects, or to use administrative data about individuals, you must present evidence that the conducting of this research complies with appropriate ethical guidelines.

Our research and evaluation committee is not an ethics committee, so we don’t provide ethics clearance on any project. However, we will accept ethics approval from a recognised Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) in Australia.

Supporting documents are:

  • a copy of your ethics application submitted to a recognised HREC in Australia
  • any comments from your ethics committee and your response to them
  • evidence of ethics approval
  • any survey questionnaire, participant recruitment email, participant information sheet, informed consent form or other instruments and data collection tools (whichever applicable)
  • additional ethics approval from Queensland Health (if you require contact with medical staff, patients or medical records)
  • approval from relevant agencies (if your project involves any other government agencies).

Our committee will only consider an application once we have received all necessary supporting documents.

Feedback exchange

The QCS Research and Evaluation group (REG) provides the secretariat role for the committee. They will give you feedback on your application, ideally within 10 business days. It may take up to 20 business days if your application requires consultation with multiple QCS business areas.

A final application that has been revised (if necessary) to REG’s satisfaction is presented at the next committee meeting.

Generally, a final application received 3 weeks ahead of a committee meeting (dates below) shall be considered at the meeting. Final applications received after that date are presented to the next meeting, 3 months later.

An out-of-session committee meeting may be held to consider urgent applications on request of the researcher, but only in exceptional circumstances.

QCS Research and Evaluation Committee consideration and endorsement

The committee sits quarterly, thoroughly reviews applications and makes a decision.

Tentative schedule for committee meetings for 2021–22:

Meeting date

Final applications close

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Tuesday 19 April 2022

After the committee meeting

After the meeting, applicants are advised of the provisional decision. We will then provide written advice of the final outcome after the Commissioner endorses the committee decisions (approximately 2–4 weeks after the meeting).

If approved, the principal researcher will be asked to sign a Deed of Agreement, which states any conditions of the approval.

All research team members who need access to QCS data or data generated out of the research exercise (e.g. interview data) will be asked to sign a Confidentiality and Data Management Agreement.

If you need to access a QCS facility for your research purpose, you will be asked to fill out a Criminal History Check form. Processing these checks typically takes 1–2 weeks; however, it can take 4–6 weeks, depending on the applicant’s history.

If you need access to a QCS custodial facility, you will be asked to attend or complete a short training session to understand prison protocols before your visit, which will be organised by QCS Academy.

We try to support researchers as much as possible and practical. However, in rare cases relevant areas may not be able to support a research project due to unforeseen operational challenges. This may result in delays or our inability to support the project even after it has been approved by the committee.

While in a QCS facility

We continue to support you throughout your research process with QCS.

You must tell a corrective services officer immediately if, during your research, you get information that leads you to reasonably believe that a prisoner or offender:

  • has committed an offence they have not already been charged with
  • is planning to commit a serious offence.

Before you publish

You must give us a draft of the project’s output before submitting it for publication, presentation or wider dissemination. This is primarily to ensure facts and information around QCS policies and practices presented in the publication are accurate.

We then provide written advice about the publication. Your Deed of Agreement and Confidentiality and Data Management Agreement will guide your responsibilities regarding the handling and publication of QCS data.

Contact

Secretariat of the QCS Research and Evaluation Committee, QCS Research and Evaluation Group

Email: research@corrections.qld.gov.au

Phone: (07) 3565 7417

Research grant scheme

We recognise the importance of high-quality research and evaluation to inform agency decisions, and improve outcomes for staff, prisoners and the community.

For the first time in 2018, QCS ran a research grant scheme, offering 6 research grants of up to $25,000 each across these categories:

  1. Managing demand—responding to growth in the corrective services population
  2. Understanding and responding to the diversity of the offender population—recognising, respecting and valuing diversity
  3. Effective and efficient service delivery—improving outcomes through evidence-based practice
  4. Rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners and offenders—supporting individuals to reduce offending and remain in community

What was involved

Applicants were required to:

  • propose a research project that aligned with the QCS research priorities
  • submit a proposal with clearly defined research questions and methodology, outlining the specific benefit of the project to QCS
  • provide QCS with a report of the findings once the project is complete.

This opportunity was open to academics, researchers and research students (with appropriate supervision).

Six research grants were awarded for 2018.

Research grant recipients for 2018

Dr Emma Antrobus, Ms Shannon Dodd and Dr Michelle Sydes

Organisation: University of Queensland

Project title: Cameras in corrections: Exploring the experiences and attitudes of custodial officers on the use of body worn cameras in prison.

Outcome:

Dr Kate Davis and Ann Morrison

Organisation: University of Southern Queensland

Project title: Understanding the post-release technology experiences of women ex-prisoners: Do they have the access and literacies to support employment and study?

Outcome:

  • Full report on the post-release technology experiences of women ex-prisoners

Dr Robin Fitzgerald and Dr Emma Antrobus (with Nina Viljamaa and Erin Simpson)

Organisation: University of Queensland

Project title: Building social capital: An evaluation of the Beenleigh/Logan Probation and Parole Community Hubs Pilot

Outcome:

Professor Paul Mazerolle, Dr Li Eriksson and Dr Samara McPhedran

Organisation: Griffith University

Project title: Pathways from intimate partner violence to intimate partner femicide: a pilot case control study

Dr Nadine McKillop, Ms Susan Rayment-McHugh, Dr Lara Christensen and Professor Tim Prenzler

Organisation: University of the Sunshine Coast

Project title: The effectiveness of sexual and violent offender rehabilitation and reintegration programs: Integrating global and local perspectives to enhance correctional outcomes

Outcome:

  • Final report on the effectiveness of rehabilitation and reintegration programs
  • Summary of the effectiveness of rehabilitation and reintegration programs findings

Elke Perdacher, Andrew Aboud, Tamara Smith, Darryn Collins, Carla Meurk, David Kavanagh and Megan Steele

This project did not proceed.

Organisation: Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research

Project title: Patient-facing e-mental health tools to support the wellbeing and mental health of male prisoners in a high-secure prison environment

More information

Queensland datasets

Data on Queensland prisoners, offenders and prisons is publicly available in datasets.

Annual reports and service delivery statements

We report on our achievements each year through annual reports and service delivery statements. These provide information on corrective services initiatives.

Australia-wide

Australian Bureau of Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is Australia's official statistical organisation.

They report on key corrective services data from all states and territories in the following publications:

Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission reports on the performance of corrective services across Australia in its annual Report on Government Services.

Part C includes information on the justice system, and Chapter 8 compares corrective services data from each state and territory.

Australian Institute of Criminology

The Australian Institute of Criminology is Australia's national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice.

Their website has free, evidence-based research, relevant to corrective services.

Corrective services in other states and territories

International