Communities and Justice

Research priorities

Explore where we focus our efforts to address the most pressing evidence gaps and achieve better outcomes for our clients and the community.

How were the research priorities developed?

The research priorities were developed through an extensive development process to identify Communities and Justice's most pressing challenges, priorities and gaps in evidence.

This involved:

  • reviewing the key frameworks, policies and reforms that underline the Communities and Justice vision to strengthen communities
  • identifying initial research priorities through a review of State Outcomes, Human Services Outcomes Framework and Communities and Justice Program Logics
  • consulting with research, policy and practice subject matter experts from across Communities and Justice to refine and prioritise the research priorities.

How will the research priorities be used?

The research priorities will be used to guide the development of research projects to create new knowledge that closes evidence gaps, and can be directly translated into policy and practice to improve client and community outcomes.

The research priorities can be applied to:

  • Communities and Justice’s key reforms and strategies
  • NSW Government State Outcomes and every program area across Communities and Justice, for example Youth Justice, Corrections and Housing
  • each service stream within the program area, for example early intervention, long-term support and restoration
  • every outcome domain within the NSW Human Services Outcomes Framework.

Program areas can expand a research priority to provide further detail to outline how the priority applies to the specific gaps of evidence for their program area.

Understanding clients and communities

Understand the needs and experiences of all clients and communities to inform service delivery and program development.

Why is this a priority?

Understanding the needs and experiences of clients will inform service delivery and help to develop an evidence base. This will support us to better address client and community needs and design programs that are client centric and work with communities.

What does this research priority include?

  • Working with clients from programs across Communities and Justice, particularly people who are clients in multiple programs, to listen to their needs and experiences
  • Identifying and listening to the needs and experiences of clients and communities with high levels of trauma, including individual, collective and intergenerational trauma
  • Listening to communities about their needs and how Communities and Justice can better work alongside their community
  • Understanding the service delivery needs for the population of people that use our services.

System quality and effectiveness

Investigate how to improve the quality, effectiveness and processes of Communities and Justice systems.

Why is this a priority?

Communities and Justice consists of multiple complex and dynamic systems, ranging from statutory child protection to courts and tribunals. Designing our systems to be effective and deliver quality is critical to their success. Research into effective service delivery models and processes can lead to improved system performance and better client and community outcomes.

What does this research priority include?

  • Researching system processes that are cost and time effective
  • Identifying processes that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of community and justice service systems, whilst ensuring that quality is maintained
  • Understanding the interdependencies and interactions of various components of service systems to assess policy impact and improve service delivery.

Identify what works for communities

Test the effectiveness of programs and understand what components and practices work to support stronger and safer communities.

Why is this a priority?

There is little evidence about what specific components of programs contribute to improving client and community outcomes. This research is important when designing programs and ensuring that they are evidence-based and adaptable to community’s needs, cultures and geography.

What does this research priority include?

  • Identifying what parts of successful programs work, and the circumstances that lead to their success
  • Understanding whether programs and practices are effective for different communities
  • Working with clients, communities and service providers to identify what works.

Aboriginal-led research

Support Aboriginal-led research and the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty.

Why is this a priority?

Aboriginal-led research mutually benefits both Aboriginal peoples and Communities and Justice. It ensures research is inclusive and is conducted in accordance with Aboriginal Knowledge. The principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty ensure that research is transparent, collaborative and has a direct benefit to the community. This research will contribute to the development for better long-term outcomes for Aboriginal peoples.

What does this research priority include?

  • Providing Aboriginal researchers access to Communities and Justice administrative data
  • Conducting research through using culturally inclusive methods
  • Ensuring research is conducted according to the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty
  • Partnering with Aboriginal communities to identify research priorities
  • Applying the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty to develop research that is based on their stories about their realities
  • Building an evidence base that embeds Aboriginal knowledges and voice.

Economic benefits

Quantify the economic benefits of achieving Community and Justice outcomes.

Why is this a priority?

Communities and Justice is committed to adopting an outcomes-focused approach. An outcomes-focused approach to program design, delivery and evaluation will facilitate a better understanding of program delivery and will benefit the community1.

Research is required to address the large evidence gap on the economic benefits of achieving outcomes. This research is important to encourage further investment in programs that work to achieve outcomes, particularly in prevention and early intervention.

What does this research priority include?

  • Using economic modelling to show the long-term financial benefit of achieving outcomes
  • Conducting research that uses economic approaches, such as a cost benefit analysis
  • Enabling researchers to analyse Communities and Justice data sets
  • Investigating the economic benefit of achieving outcomes in early intervention and prevention services.


Last updated:

22 May 2023