Examining offending over the life course and generations

This research theme explores how antisocial behaviour and offending emerge, persist and desist over the life course. Our researchers also examine the role of health, social service and criminal justice systems in either sustaining or preventing offending.

Work in this area is both theoretical and applied, aiming to expand the evidence base for effective public policies to prevent delinquency and reduce offending.

Research focus

The core focus of this theme is to understand how developmental conditions, such as individual risks, families, peers, communities, institutions, and historical and political contexts, give rise to offending and often sustain it over generations.

Theme leader

Professor Susan Dennison

Areas of expertise:

  • Incarcerated parents and their children
  • Intergenerational offending
  • Child maltreatment and youth offending

Helping Children Flourish

Youth crime and behavioural issues of adolescents are always a hot topic on talkback radio. Calls for tougher penalties and longer prison sentences are the norm from callers.

However, leading criminologist and behavioural scientist Professor Ross Homel, AO, says crime prevention, through early intervention measures, is the answer—not more jail time.


NameResearch area

Dr Troy Allard

Life course offending pathways across gender and race/ethnicity

Dr Kirsten Besemer

Paternal incarceration and family wellbeing

Dr Sara Branch

Bullying, crime prevention pathways

Professor Susan Dennison

Parental incarceration and child wellbeing, intergenerational offending, child maltreatment and youth offending, developmental and life course theory

Dr Li Eriksson

Intimate partner violence, homicide, pathways to offending, criminological theory

Dr Kathryn Freiberg

Crime prevention and intervention, developmental pathways, children and young people

Dr Jacqueline Homel

Adolescent and young adult substance use, antisocial behaviour, Justice Health

Professor Ross Homel

Developmental criminology/prevention, children and young people

Dr Emily Hurren

Child maltreatment and youth offending links, cumulative and interactive risk models, Historical context/change to child protection system

Associate Professor Benoit Leclerc

Crime patterns/decision making, situational crime prevention

Dr Simon Little

Youth and indigenous justice and crime prevention

Dr Tara McGee

Alcohol and aggression, development of anitsocial behaviour across the life course, gender differences

Dr Samara McPhedran

Suicide prevention, violence prevention

Dr Emily Moir

Crime prevention and crime science, environmental criminology, guardianship and crime control

Dr Alana Piper

Recidivism and criminal subcultures, property crime, female offenders and life course criminology, prosecution practices

Susan Rayment-McHugh

Understanding and preventing sexual violence and abuse, endemic sexual violence and abuse, responding to sexual violence and abuse in Australian Indigenous communities, place-based investigations using a 'realist evaluation' perspective

Dr Lacey Schaefer

Re-entry and desistance, community crime control, offender and crime controller decision-making

Professor Anna Stewart

Child protection, juvenile justice, adult onset offending, evaluation and place-based interventions, longitudinal administrative data linkage

Dr Carleen Thompson


Professor Clare Tilbury

Child protection and family support policy and practice, pathways to better child protection practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children, national study of Australia's children's courts

PhD students

NameResearch topic
Brian JenkinsReducing recurrence in the child protection system
Mateja MihinjacImplementation of crime prevention through environmental design in Australia
Yolande Robinson 
Holly SmallboneNegotiating absence and presence: a longitudinal study examining children’s wellbeing through parental imprisonment and re-entry
Jessica Tyzak 
Rebecca WallisChildren left outside: levels and experiences of social exclusion among female offenders and their children in Queensland
Tyson WhittenPersistent offending and antisocial behaviour
Role of human agency in offending
Mental illness and offending (persistent)
Trajectories of offending over the life course
Gabriel (Tsz Wah) WongA multi-criteria framework for analysing cross-cultural differences in adolescent drug policy

More information

For more details, get in touch