Deborah Glass OBE

Victorian Ombudsman

The Victorian Ombudsman is Deborah Glass OBE. She was appointed in March 2014 for a term of 10 years.

Deborah was raised in Melbourne where she studied law at Monash University.

Deborah practiced law briefly in the city, before joining a US investment bank in Switzerland in 1985. She was appointed to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission at its inception in 1989, where she became Senior Director, instrumental in raising standards in the investment management industry.

Deborah moved to London in 1998 where she became the Chief Executive of the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation. In 2001, she joined the UK Police Complaints Authority, and in 2004 became a Commissioner with the new Independent Police Complaints Commission of England and Wales (IPCC). She was the Commissioner responsible for London, and for many high profile criminal and misconduct investigations into police conduct. Deborah was appointed IPCC Deputy Chair in 2008, carrying operational responsibility for the IPCC’s regional Commissioners, and was awarded an OBE for her service in the New Year Honours List in 2012.

Deborah is committed to ensuring fair and reasonable decision making in the Victorian public sector, and to improving public administration. She holds a firm belief in public sector integrity and the protection of human rights.


The impact that the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) can have in supporting rehabilitation

Over two years ago, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass tabled her report, Investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria. That report recommended a whole-of-government approach as central to successfully reintegrating Victorian prisoners into the community, and reducing recidivism. Highlighting the solution was not to build more prisons, Ombudsman Glass called for a re-evaluation of the effectiveness of our correctional systems through exploring alternative approaches that have been successful in changing offending behaviour and reducing reoffending.

Two years later and what has changed?

Last year the Australian Government announced its intention to ratify the OPCAT treaty, and the issue of rehabilitation and reintegration remains an ever-present issue.

Ombudsman Glass decided to investigate what OPCAT would mean by conducting an independent inspection of Victoria’s main women’s prison, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, against OPCAT’s rigorous standards. The investigation also looked at Victoria’s preparedness for OPCAT.

The inspection assessed the prison’s conditions and practices and found a routine use of strip searching and a high incidence of force and restraint in the prison. Many women prisoners are victims of sexual abuse and such practices can inflict further trauma and undermine the prison’s rehabilitation programs.

OPCAT inspections help ensure the effectiveness of prisons in promoting rehabilitation, reducing recidivism and increasing community safety. While it will cost money to ensure Australia has properly resourced bodies to carry out inspections and to implement recommendations, it costs far more to deal with the consequences of ill-treatment. Such inspections could make the difference between supporting rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners and building yet another prison.


Hannah Graham

Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research

Dr Hannah Graham is a Lecturer in Criminology in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) at the University of Stirling, UK.

Her research interests centre on a few areas: punishment and criminal justice, particularly community sanctions and measures and seeking to reduce the use of prison; understanding and supporting rehabilitation, desistance and reintegration processes; and innovation, creativity and justice. Her research in Australia and Scotland has involved spending time in a range of settings: from courts, to probation and community corrections services, private sector electronic monitoring services, prisons, drug rehabs, social enterprises and community sector settings, as well as working with governments and policymakers.

Hannah is the author of three books published internationally by Routledge: ‘Rehabilitation Work: Supporting Desistance and Recovery’ (Graham, 2016), ‘Innovative Justice’ (Graham & White, 2015), and ‘Working with Offenders: A Guide to Concepts and Practices’ (White & Graham, 2010). She is an Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Probation (SAGE), together with Ioan Durnescu, Fergus McNeill and Martine Herzog-Evans. From 2006-2014, Hannah worked in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Twitter: @DrHannahGraham


Uses of technology and visions of digital justice are prominent in discussion of the future of criminal justice. New apps, devices and wearable tech, platforms, electronic  monitoring and information sharing capabilities warrant thoughtful consideration. The forms and functions of technology within criminal justice must be understood in context – how, why, with whom and by whom it is used matters. Against a backdrop of swollen prison populations and budgetary constraints, governments and justice policymakers are increasingly interested in how electronic monitoring and other technologies may be used to reduce the use of imprisonment, including a form of diversion, as early release from prison and as a condition of parole. This paper showcases international evidence and experiences, incorporating the findings of research on electronic monitoring tagging technologies in Europe. Practitioner perspectives are featured to offer real-world firsthand insights into key issues. Using technology can involve positive outcomes as well as restrictions of liberty and privacy for people with convictions and, simultaneously, it may affect the focus of supervision and scope of practitioners’ work. Technology can be used within punitive approaches centered on control, risk and restrictive surveillance, or it can be integrated as a feature within more rehabilitative and reintegrative approaches where supervision and social supports are oriented towards enabling desistance from crime. Ultimately, advances in digital justice and criminal justice need to be socially just, pursuing ethical and effective uses of technology with respect for the individual, families and communities involved. 


Dr Diana Johns

University of Melbourne

Diana Johns has over fifteen years’ experience teaching and researching in the criminal justice field. Diana’s research interests include post-prison reintegration and how people experience criminal justice involvement – particularly those described as ‘hard-to-reach’ or ‘vulnerable’ – including young people, ex-prisoners, and people with cognitive impairments. As well as her academic work, Diana has worked in support roles with long-term unemployed and young people with disabilities.

After completing her PhD in 2014, Diana spent 2015 in Wales, in the UK, doing postdoctoral research on young people’s prolific offending. In 2016 she was involved in the evaluation of the Youth Diversion Pilot Program (YDPP) for the Children’s Court of Victoria, and in research for Corrections Victoria related to serious sexual and violent offending. She is currently undertaking research, with colleagues at Monash and the Centre for Multicultural Youth, about the experience and effects of media representations of South Sudanese young people in Victoria.

In 2016 Diana joined the University of Melbourne as Lecturer in Criminology. Her book, Being and Becoming an Ex-Prisoner, was published by Routledge in 2017. Based on her PhD research, the book explores men’s experience of release from prison from the perspective of ex-prisoners themselves and post-release support workers. It highlights the critical role of community in post-prison reintegration, in providing opportunities for participation and acceptance.


Supporting transitions from prison: Recognising reintegrative ritual in everyday practices

Release from prison is typically disorienting, disruptive, uncertain, risky. Supporting people’s post-prison transitions towards (re)integration requires skill, understanding and persistence.  It often involves a gradual process of building hope and confidence, recognising – and capitalising on – opportunities for participation and acceptance. In this paper, I consider post-release support through the lens of liminality – the state of in-betweenness that characterises the experience of getting out, but not quite fitting in – of being neither here nor there.

From this ‘rites-of-passage’ perspective, the transition from prison to the community is a liminal phase that requires some form of symbolic ritual to bring it to a close and mark the beginning of the post-liminal phase of reintegration. Without reintegrative ritual, the liminal phase can become a state of sustained exclusion. So, what are these rituals? What do they look like? How are they experienced? And how might this understanding be used to more effectively support ex-prisoners in their efforts towards (re)integration? I draw on research into men’s experience of release from prison in Victoria to explore answers to these questions.


Mark Johnson MBE

User Voice

Mark is an ex-offender and former drug abuser. After primary, secondary and tertiary rehab he started a tree surgery business. His policy was to employ other recovering addicts and ex-offenders. He won, among other accolades, a Pride of Britain award for his work. His best selling autobiography, Wasted, was published in 2007.

Mark went on to become a policy adviser to The Prince’s Trust, then the Government and the third sector. He founded the charity User Voice, to offer policy-makers access to the unheard and marginalised voices in society. More recently he founded, CanDo coffee while offering socially excluded people meaningful employment opportunities.

Mark is an Ashoka Fellow and Visiting Associate at the University of Durham. He was awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to vulnerable people.

Mark is a renowned social commentator and public speaker.


In his presentation Mark will describe his personal journey from addiction to award winning social entrepreneur, discussing the value of lived experience and listening to the ‘user voice’. He will outline the theory of involving people, from tokenism to sharing power and the barriers to involvement.

Overview of User Voice – who we are, what we do, our values and the impact we’ve had. Finally, the presentation will challenge the audience around involving people with lived experience in the solutions.


Alastair McEwin

Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner

Alastair McEwin is Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner.  He commenced in this role in August 2016.

Alastair’s educational background is in arts, law and business administration.  Following his undergraduate studies in Adelaide, he spent time in Vancouver, Canada, pursuing postgraduate studies.  Prior to moving to Sydney to commence as a consultant with Accenture, a global management and IT consulting company, he worked as Associate to the Hon. Justice John von Doussa at the Federal Court.  Alastair has a strong background in working with non-profit organisations. He was the Executive Director of Community Legal Centres NSW, the peak body for Community Legal Centres in NSW.  Other roles include CEO of People with Disability Australia and Manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law.

Prior to commencing in his current role, he was the Chairperson of the NSW Disability Council, the official advisory board to the NSW Government on disability issues.  He was also the President of the Deaf Society of NSW and Chairperson of the Australian Theatre of the Deaf.  He has also been the coordinator of the World Federation of the Deaf Expert Group on Human Rights and an adjunct lecturer for the Masters of Community Management degree at the University of Technology Sydney.


Peter Norden AO

Deakin University

Peter Norden is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University. In 2016 he was made an Inaugural Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology.

In 2007 Peter was made an Officer in the Order of Australia ‘for services to community development through social research and programs aimed at assisting marginalised young people and offenders and to the mental health sector’.


Smarter Justice must learn from the past. Safer Communities will reap the reward. 

This presentation will outline Peter’s involvement  in the development of services to support people leaving prison over the last 40 years, including the establishment of The Brosnan Centre, a post release service which was founded in 1977 for highly institutionalised, at risk offenders aged 17 -21.

In the following decade, peter’s involvement on the Board of the Council of the Prisoners’ Aid Society which became VACRO, and on the Advisory Board of the Epistle Centre which later developed into ACSO and deep involvement in the Victorian prison system as the Victorian Catholic prison chaplain helped to shape his ideas.

This direct experience of daily engagement with prisoners and their families taught him more than social work school ever could about the reality faced by those impacted by life inside. I learnt that those released from prison most need stable accommodation, access to employment or training, and most important of all, positive social connectedness.

In 1996 the Brosnan Centre expanded into preventative and policy work, which became known as Jesuit Social Services. The new programs addressed the dual disability of mental illness and addiction, developed innovative employment training programs for those with multiple disabilities, and began community development programs in public housing estates.

With the goal of engagement, many workers with direct lived experience of prison were employed and workers were employed from a range of communities. Programs were tailored to the needs of individuals and often involved intensive, long term intervention.

Prevention led to a focus on research and policy, at both a State and Federal level. The research was based on experience and the policy commitment was to apply the results of our research to influence change.