About this research stream

Australia is becoming increasingly diverse. The multicultural composition of the criminal justice system is also changing, which has ramifications for forensic practice. Culture can shape an individual’s worldview, norms, motivations, beliefs, expected behaviours and practices.

It can also influence health-seeking behaviours, treatment considerations and how individuals interact with clinical or correctional service providers. It is therefore critical that we ensure that our professional methods are culturally fair, relevant and non-discriminatory at the intersection of psychology and law.  

Our research in this area focuses on: 

  • the cross-cultural applicability of assessment approaches 
  • identifying the needs of justice-involved multicultural clients 
  • best practices for working effectively with multicultural clients in psycho-legal scenarios

Researchers in this area have affiliations with key multicultural researchers from other research institutions around Australia and internationally.

Current and recent projects 

  • Advancing cross-cultural approaches to violence risk assessment
  • The mental health of culturally and linguistically diverse offenders
  • Cross-cultural differences in the application of pre-trial diversion

Highlighted publications

Ashford, L. J., Spivak, B. L., Ogloff, J. R. P., & Shepherd, S. M. (2023). Statistical learning methods and cross-cultural fairness: Trade-offs and implications for risk assessment instruments. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0001228

Coulter, D. J., Lloyd, C. D., & Serin, R. C. (2023). Psychometric Properties of a Risk Tool Across Indigenous Māori and European Samples in Aotearoa New Zealand: Measurement Invariance, Discrimination, and Calibration for Predicting Criminal Recidivism. Assessment, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/10731911231153838

Ashford L., Spivak, B., Ogloff, J.R.P., Shepherd, S. (2022) The cross-cultural fairness of the LS/RNR: An Australian analysis. Law and Human Behavior, 46 (3): 214-226

Woldgabreal, Y., Day, A., Daffern, M., Lloyd, C., & Graffam, J. (2022). An Empirical Test of the Factor Structure of the Violence Risk Scale and Its Measurement Invariance Across Time and Cultural Groups. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 49(9), 1255–1275. https://doi.org/10.1177/00938548221084984

Ashford, L., Spivak B., & Shepherd, S. (2021). Racial fairness in violence risk assessments: a review of the literature. Psychology, Crime and Law

Warner, B., Spivak, B., Ashford, L., Fix, R., Ogloff, J.R.P & Shepherd, S. (2021). The impact of offender-victim backgrounds on the likelihood of receiving diversion. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 33 (3), 298-316

Shepherd, S., Harries, C., Spivak, B., Pichler, A.S., & Purcell, R. (2021). Exploring presentation differences in multi-cultural youth seeking assistance for mental health problems. BMC Psychology, 9(1), 1-15.

Shepherd, S., & Spivak, B. (2020). Finding colour in conformity part II – Reflections on structured professional judgement and cross-cultural risk assessment. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 65 (1): 92-99

Shepherd, S., & Spivak, B. (2020) Estimating the extent and nature of offending by Sudanese-born individuals in Victoria. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. 53(3): 352-368

Papalia, N., Shepherd, S., Spivak, B., Luebbers, S., Shea, D., & Fullam, R. (2019). Cultural disparities in criminal justice system responses to first-time juvenile offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 46(8), 1067-1087

Shepherd, S., Spivak, B., Arabena, K., & Paradies, Y. (2018). Identifying the prevalence and predictors of suicidal behaviours for Indigenous males in custody. BMC Public Health, 18, 1159

Rose, A., Shepherd, S. M., Trounson, J., Connor, J., Skues, J., Daffern, M., Pfeifer, J. E., & Ogloff, J. R. P. (2019). Psychological Wellbeing, Distress and Coping Differences in Indigenous and Multicultural Prisoners in Australia – A mixed methods analysis. Psychology, Psychiatry, & Law. DOI: DOI: 10.1080/13218719.2019.1642259

Trounson, J. S., Gibbs, J., Kostrz, K., McDonald, R. & Peters, A. (2020). A protocol for a systematic literature review: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement with disability services. Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues.

Black, N. & Trounson, J.S. (2019). Intersectionality in incarceration: the need for an intersectional approach toward Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Australian prison system. Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 22, 45-59.

Trounson, J. S., Peters, A., Munro-Harrison, E. (2019). Evaluation of a culturally safe education support program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in prison. Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 21(4), 9-30.

Shepherd, S. M., & Lewis-Fernandez, R. (2016). Forensic Risk Assessment and Cultural Diversity – Contemporary Challenges and Future Directions. Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, 22(4), 427-438. DOI: 10.1037/law0000102

Munro-Harrison, E., Trounson, J. S., & Ironfield, N. (2016). A culturally safe education engagement model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men in prison. Aboriginal & Islander Health Worker Journal, 40, 34-35.

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