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Protecting Asian international students from crime

With international youth gang violence making headlines in recent times Griffith University’s Stephen Illidge’s research into the problem has never been more relevant and timely.

Mr Illidge, former head of the Queensland Police Asian Specialist Unit, is completing a PhD through Griffith’s Centre of Excellence for Policing and Security and the Griffith Asia Institute, providing the first sustained study of Asian international student-related crime in Australia.

He is exploring intervention and prevention strategies for international students from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who are victimised by other Asian groups – and he has the support of settled migrant communities and student associations from those Asian regions.

Mr Illidge has been embraced by the local Asian communities from his position as detective sergeant and officer in charge of the Asian Specialist Unit, having been given the Korean name SooHo (meaning Protector) for himself and honorary Korean names for his sons. 

“Northeast Asian communities here in Australia and abroad are embracing the research,” Mr Illidge said.

“I have received genuine interest and assistance from key tertiary institutions and ELICOS providers throughout Australia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

“I have also had successful talks with senior police and government officials from these regions to assist my field research early next year.”

Mr Illidge’s research is examining why student gangs exist, how their extortion-based activities operate, and the risks and challenges Asian international students face shortly after arrival which leave them vulnerable as targets of criminal activity.

He said the focus on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong was based on the student cohort sizes.

“According to Australian government reports, in 2007 Australia's top 10 international student market segments were from Asia.  China represented the largest student cohort accounting for one-fifth of Australia's total onshore student export income ($2.7 billion),” Mr Illidge said.

“Hong Kong accounted for $572 million and Taiwan $233 million.

“China’s one child policy also means international student welfare is very important to the Chinese government in terms of family prosperity.”

Mr Illidge said social isolation and a lack of family supervision and support systems appeared to be key risk factors for these young people.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests the first two months is a danger period where it is critical students link into student associations and support networks, otherwise they’re more susceptible to being victimised or exploited by Asian gangs,” Mr Illidge said.

“I’m also hoping to develop a better understanding of the cultural factors and how they relate to the widespread under-reporting of crime against Asian international students.”

Mr Illidge’s research will involve interviews with victims and offenders, surveys with Chinese students, and a review of current literature and police data. 

In early 2009 Mr Illidge will spend a few months in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong conducting further research. 

International students interested in being involved can contact Mr Illidge on 07 3735 7311 or [email protected] for a confidential and informal discussion.

Mr Illidge qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (Korean Language and Criminal Justice) and a Master of Asian and International Studies.  While completing the Master degree he started another degree, a Master of Management.  By the time Mr Illidge graduated with his second Master qualification he had already enrolled in his doctorate and undertaken a Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law and Practice.  While Head of the Asian Specialist Unit Mr Illidge initiated a number of detection and prevention programs to improve international student welfare and the delivery of police services to Queensland’s Asian communities.  Mr Illidge resigned from the Queensland Police at the start of 2008 to pursue his doctorate full time after 15 years police service – with the last five years as Head of the Asian Specialist Unit. 

Griffith acknowledges Queensland’s Fitzgerald legacy

Griffith University will formally announce its Tony Fitzgerald Scholarship Program at the inaugural Tony Fitzgerald lecture on Tuesday, July 28 at the State Library.

The lecture by former President of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and Chief Justice of South Africa Arthur Chaskalson will mark the 20th anniversary of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into Queensland Government corruption. 

Mr Chaskalson is acknowledged as a leading global figure in human rights and as one of the architects of post apartheid South Africa. 

As a member of former President Nelson Mandela’s defence team, he was a formidable opponent of the apartheid government and in 1978 established a non-profit organisation, the Legal Resources Centre, as a mechanism to challenge apartheid by using the law to pursue justice and human rights.

He is president of the International Commission of Jurists and Chair of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights, a panel mandated to consider the nature of today’s human rights threats and the impact of counter terrorism measures.

The scholarship fund will support full-time PhD study in an area reflecting the ethos of the Fitzgerald reforms in law, public policy, political science, governance, criminology, criminal justice and the role of the fourth estate.

Director of Griffith’s Key Centre of Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance Professor Paul Mazerolle said the Fitzgerald report marked a watershed in Queensland and Australia’s political history.

“In addition to the justice and governance reforms, the report and inquiry served as a catalyst and inspiration to many researchers and practitioners working in the field,’’ he said.

 “The scholarship program represents an important investment into building further knowledge and understanding into integrity and effective governance.

“We want to ensure our future researchers and students contribute to the evolution of Queensland’s political, administrative and justice reforms.”

The aim of the biennial lecture series is to publicly acknowledge the importance of the Fitzgerald reforms and to inspire continued focus, commitment and vigilance.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry took two years and made more than 100 recommendations grouped under three major categories including the establishment of the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission, the Criminal Justice Commission and the reform of the then-named Queensland Police Force.

World first police and security research centre opens in Brisbane

The world’s first dedicated police and security research centre will be launched at Griffith University on Thursday, February 21.

The Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (CEPS) is headquartered at Griffith University, in partnership with the Australian National University, the University of Queensland and Charles Sturt University, bringing international focus to the study of policing and national security to Australia.

Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said the centre’s world-class scholars would expand Australia’s understanding of trans-national threats and help build new responses to the security challenges of the 21st century.

“The $32 billion per year national cost of crime and the pervasive nature of terrorism in the post 9/11 environment creates a real and urgent need for high-quality research of scale, focus and depth not previously undertaken in Australia,’’ Professor
O’ Connor said.

“The centre’s research program will uncover the key vulnerabilities of Australian society and help design and implement fair, evidenced-based policing and security responses.”

CEPS Director Professor Lorraine Mazerolle said the centre would enhance Australia’s local policing capacity and security role in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.                          

“Our vision is to achieve excellence in policing and security research to drive local and global policy and practice reform strengthening the security and wellbeing of Australia,’’ Professor Mazerolle said.

CEPS has five broad goals:

  • Deliver an exceptional research program;
  • Educate the next generation of police and security scholars;
  • Grow research and policy interest in national and international police and security issues;
  • Engage with the public, research, policy and practitioner environments on police and security issues and;
  • Achieve national and international distinction.

Projects commencing in 2008 include:

  • Professors Peter Grabosky (CEPS Deputy Director), Lorraine Mazerolle (CEPS Director) and Gabriele Bammer (Chief Investigator) will work with Harvard University and police departments in Australia to reform police responses to serious crime problems;
  • Professors Lorraine Mazerolle and Tim Prenzler (Chief Investigator) will work with international scholar Professor Lawrence Sherman (Cambridge University) to test better and more effective ways for policing vulnerable and conflict ridden communities and;
  • Professor Michael Wesley (Chief Investigator) will explore networks of trans-national actors that threaten Australia’s security.

CEPS has start-up funding totalling $26 million. Ten million dollars has been contributed by the Australian Research Council, $1 million from the Queensland Government and $4.43 million from other industry partners including the Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police.

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