Communities and Justice

About the Research Strategy

The vision, principles, aims and approach behind the DCJ research strategy.

The DCJ Research Strategy 2020-2025

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Research Strategy supports strategically-driven research projects and research partnerships with universities, NGOs and other government agencies. The Research Strategy enables DCJ to invest in research that directly addresses our most pressing priorities. These research priorities focus on evidence gaps and generate new knowledge to inform future policy and practice. DCJ research aims to answer specific questions and find solutions to gain insights that support the Department to achieve its immediate and longer term priorities. The research encompasses the generation of new knowledge and the application of evidence to policy, practice and service delivery.


Research supports the Department of Communities and Justice to deliver evidence-based policy and practice that improves client and community outcomes


Communities and Justice Research:

  • is developed with clients and communities to identify what works
  • is practice led and feeds back into practice and policy
  • is aligned to the NSW Human Services Outcomes Framework
  • embeds the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Governance
  • is rigorous, ethical and culturally responsive
  • is generated through collaboration across the Human Services Sector
  • supports Communities and Justice to achieve its strategic priorities.


  1. Improve client outcomes by creating and using new knowledge to close evidence gaps.
  2. Transform the Department of Communities and Justice into an evidence-based organisation where research informs decision making.
  3. Implement a best practice model to direct, conduct and translate human services research.

A strategic approach for Communities and Justice Research

The Department of Communities and Justice brings together a diverse range of services and programs to solve complex problems for the people of NSW. Through bringing together the former Departments of Family and Community Services and Justice, we have an opportunity to:

  • focus on prevention and early intervention
  • ensure an effective and efficient legal system, reducing reoffending and building safer communities
  • support the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children, young people and families
  • collaborate across the sector to improve client and community outcomes and ensure inclusive communities
  • provide safe and affordable places to live.

Becoming an evidence-based organisation, where service design is based on high quality research, is critical to improving outcomes for all clients and communities.

How and why the Research Strategy was developed

The Research Strategy is client and community centric

The Research Strategy aims to generate practice-led research to develop evidence about what works for clients and communities. This will directly inform our policy and practice to improve client and community outcomes.

The Research Strategy is working alongside Ngaramanala: Aboriginal Knowledge Program

Ngaramanala: Aboriginal Knowledge Program aims to apply the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty to how evidence and data is collected, used and governed in the Department of Communities and Justice. It is a shared journey of discovery across Communities and Justice. The Research Strategy, in partnership with Ngaramanala: Aboriginal Knowledge Program, aims to recognise the historical and sometimes current misuse of data about Aboriginal peoples and support Aboriginal-led research.

The Research Strategy is an important building block to support the achievement of outcomes in DCJ’s Outcome Business Plan

The Research Strategy supports NSW Treasury outcomes based budgeting. Outcome Budgeting puts the needs of the people at the centre of investment decision-making across the sector. It is an approach to decision making that recognises that the allocation of public resources should be based on investment in programs with the greatest likelihood of achieving outcomes rather than funding outputs.

DCJ's Research Priority areas have been designed to close critical evidence gaps about what works for clients and communities to support outcomes based planning. Research generated under the Strategy will provide the evidence about how best to invest to improve client and community outcomes and what works best for different client groups. Research evidence can be used in program design to test assumptions that underpin program logics. This ensures that programs will achieve the best outcomes for our clients and will produce the expected return on investment. The research under the Strategy includes a focus on generating research to support system-based and economic outcomes and to deliver better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

The Research Strategy will invest in and leverage DCJ’s research and administrative data assets

DCJ has a number of rich research and administrative data assets. Through the Research Strategy, these data assets are being used internally, collaboratively and externally to develop research to close evidence gaps. DCJ has a number of data assets, including the Reoffenders Database, the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study, core administrative datasets and developed analytic datasets such as demand funding and service supply models and the Human Services Dataset. The Human Services Dataset is unprecedented in scale in NSW, bringing together 27 years of data, over seven million records, from over 60 frontline datasets in 11 government agencies.

The NSW Human Services Outcomes Framework guides our research

The NSW Human Services Outcomes Framework guides our research to create and develop evidence about what works for clients and communities to support the design and implementation of Communities and Justice programs and services. The NSW Human Services Outcomes Framework is a cross-agency framework that specifies seven wellbeing outcomes for the NSW population: safety, home, economic, health, education and skills, social and community, and empowerment.

The Research Strategy builds upon a history of research that informs policy and practice

The Communities and Justice Research Strategy builds upon a proud history of research from across the department where evidence has been developed and used to inform policy and practice.

Examples of when evidence was produced and translated into practice

Below are a few examples of when evidence was produced and then translated into practice:

Informing the practice and measure of early identification of those at risk of intimate partner violence

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) is a statistical and research agency within the DCJ. A BOCSAR study in February 2019 found that the odds of being a repeat victim of intimate partner violence within 12 months are ten times higher for someone residing in the most disadvantaged areas of Australia.

This study was undertaken to improve the ability of police and others to identify those at high risk of repeat intimate partner violence. Findings from this study are informing the Government’s redesign of the risk reassessment tool used by justice agencies to deliver victim services and support to those at most risk of further violence.

Improving the long-term outcomes of children in Out-of-Home Care

The Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) is the first, large-scale longitudinal study of children and young people in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC) in Australia. It examines the experiences of children in OOHC to understand factors influencing children’s safety, permanency and wellbeing and to inform policy, practice and improvement of the service system

The POCLS study has directly informed policy and practice for children in OOHC, including providing evidence to policy makers in Their Futures Matter that looks at disability, offending, young parents and leaving care which has directly informed policy development and its implementation.

Identifying factors that contribute to positive early childhood health and development in Aboriginal children

Seeding Success aims to identify health factors that predict developmental vulnerability and to generate evidence about the characteristics of services and programs that improve outcomes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. This research has been used to build the evidence base about the importance of positive early intervention, and contributed to the Independent Review of Aboriginal Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care: Family Is Culture. This has been used by FACS early intervention policy makers and informed early intervention program design.

Last updated:

06 Oct 2022