Crossroads of Rural Crime

Cover of Crossroads of Rural Crime

Representations and Realities of Transgression in the Australian Countryside

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Synopsis

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiv
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Abstract

‘Crossroads’ serves as a metaphor for networks and intersections, overlaps and trajectories, and is used throughout this book to denote how criminal transgressions and the representations of crime circulate in and out of rural spaces in the Australian countryside. This chapter provides an introduction and overview of key concepts and approaches to rural criminology informed by a ‘crossroads’ metaphor. It discusses the complexities of rurality and how these, in turn, point to significant turning points and strategic directions – not only for research and scholarship but also for understanding, communicating and responding to rural crime and deviance as it presently manifests in countries such as Australia. Along this journey, a number of issues are identified, and practical concerns signalled.

Abstract

Across countless generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had a vision for the health and well-being of all elements of Australia and its people. This includes directions for preventing inequity, crime, environmental degradation and illness. But the paths to take – and the knowledges that exist – have long been flooded by a negative discourse about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that blames, shames and discriminates, locating over-representation in prisons and poor health and well-being as a cultural deficit, apportioned to individuals rather than the complex systems and politics of knowledge construction that surround it. Rural criminology has an opportunity to change tracks to redress the lack of cultural competence training and cultural safety planning among its workforce – the 97 percent who have the power to create change for the small and young population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This chapter identifies steps in the path to change and opportunities for rural criminology including identifying shared determinants of justice and health, decolonising evidence for decision-making and improving accountability including through partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders. This chapter asserts a freedom and confidence that emanates from decolonising methodologies, reflexivity in research and meeting aspirations of local community Elders and leaders with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural values and strengths. ‘Next steps’ in constructing a more culturally responsive rural criminology are presented, with a summary of roles and spheres of influence to consider.

Abstract

The colonial history of Australia has been a struggle between Indigenous peoples and the colonisers over Country. This is often represented as a struggle over land – it's control and use. Yet, for Indigenous people, land was never simply an economic commodity to be exploited. It was and is ‘Country’ in a deeper sense of the word, a fundamental part of Indigenous cosmology and a necessary foundation to a person's and group's ontology or being in the world. Country, then, can be conceptualised as both a physical and metaphysical domain. Indeed, both domains are inseparably intertwined. The struggle over Country remains core to understanding the social and political place of Indigenous people within Aboriginal law and within the criminal law and institutions of the coloniser. Further, this ongoing struggle goes to the heart of understanding why Indigenous people start their discussions on reform and change within the criminal justice system with a demand for recognition, negotiation and respect for Indigenous self-determination and a demand to see Indigenous people as colonised peoples.

Abstract

On one level, motor vehicles might represent the possibility of unfettered freedom, escape (from government authority) and autonomy through providing work and leisure opportunities. On another level, in remote places, ‘hybridised’ and ‘Indigenised’ vehicles have been appropriated to speak to economic and cultural realities of everyday life. This chapter considers how night patrols may articulate expressions of decoloniality by enhancing Aboriginal social capital or what we refer to here as ‘collective efficacy’. It draws upon a subset of the findings from an evaluation of Indigenous Youth Programs in New South Wales to examine the effectiveness of night patrols operating in nine communities across the state. While the patrols were universally endorsed by the communities they served, some services were functioning at a high level while others had experienced periods of dysfunction and inactivity. The factors that impede effective service provision for night patrols in some communities were compared with other communities where services were functioning well. The chapter argues that night patrols can build and harness collective efficacy providing more than mere community policing functions.

Abstract

The way crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’ use in rural Australia has been represented for national television audiences provides rich evidence of the intersections between media, crime and rurality. This chapter explores these connections through a framing analysis of three Australian television news and current affairs features about this topic. It investigates how concepts such as ‘fluidity’ and ‘boundedness’ operate in relation to the representation of ice use and drug-related crime in rural and regional communities. This raises questions about how certain images and associations come to circulate through media as well as their potential to evolve and change over time or to even be contested – sometimes by the very individuals and communities who serve as the subjects of stories about such problems in society.

Abstract

This chapter examines some key themes raised by the intersection of the urban, the rural and the penal against the backdrop of the Australian ‘rural ideal’. But the chapter also seeks to look critically at that ideal and how it relates (or does not) to the various lifeworlds and patterns of settler development that lie beyond the Australian cityscape. Attention is directed away from the singular focus on the rural/urban divide to stress the importance of North/South in understanding patterns of development and penal practices beyond the cityscape in the Australian context.

Abstract

This paper documents the case of a young girl who went missing from a country track in 1972. It considers the function of roads in her disappearance, and the importance and terror of roads generally in Australia. For roads have a role in Australia that is vastly different to smaller, more populous nations. Roads in Australia are absolutely crucial to the maintenance and sustenance of society. So too are the cars and other vehicles we use upon them, but they are just as paradoxical in their effects. As Elizabeth Jacka and Susan Dermody (1988, p. 113) put it so plainly: ‘our cars kill us, and without them we would die’. The case of the girl who vanished from a road is not an unusual event in Australia. However, it has led to a conjunction of long-lasting effects, particularly on the community of Mackay, that are. The case has never been solved, not due to a desire to solve it, but ironically because of the very methods initially employed to do so.

Abstract

Managing the inevitable conflicts that occur as humans and wildlife increasingly cross paths is a pressing concern for conservation in the Anthropocene. The focus of this chapter is on a high-profile case of wildlife persecution in rural Australia, which saw a farmhand successfully prosecuted for deliberately poisoning 420 wedge-tailed eagles he believed to be a threat to the newborn lambs on the property where he worked. The chapter illustrates how this crime emerged at the intersection of three trajectories: the legacy of environmental change and colonial oppression in Australia; the sustained resistance to rural exclusion exhibited by some species of Australia native wildlife as they have adapted their livelihoods to the altered agricultural landscapes; and conservation doctrine that seeks to reverse the historical treatment of Australian wildlife by issuing it blanket protection from human interference. The complexities and interdependencies that have been created as wildlife have forged a future in rural space cannot be easily unravelled. The chapter argues that, alongside protection, more active forms of reconciliation between the trajectories of Australian agriculture and the trajectories of rural wildlife are required. It is only through experimenting with ways that pastoralists and wildlife might resolve disputes fairly and openly that more inclusive rural places become possible.

Abstract

This chapter examines narratives and representations of rural Australia deployed by political actors. At both federal and state levels in Australia, political parties tend to focus their attention on metropolitan electorates in their public discussions, particularly during election campaigns. This has led to accusations from minor parties and independents that rural areas are ignored by governments based in capital cities. The Nationals, for example, presents itself as the party whose primary motivation is to protect the interests of rural voters. Rural sites are political spaces shaped by particular types of narrative and rhetoric. Engaging with how the ‘rural’ is represented through rhetoric and image is useful for understanding how crime is positioned. This chapter uses rhetorical political analysis and representation to understand how political ideas about rurality are expressed through language and imagery. The political context outlined in this chapter is one factor that affects the nature and complexities of rural crime and responses to it. Rural Australia is at its own political crossroad, reflected in the emergence of competing narratives for the bush, defined here as a contest between ‘rural centrism’ and ‘rural populism’.

Abstract

Regional and rural Australians have long appreciated the problem of demographics in politics particularly as they relate to the electoral process and its related party system. All Australians understand the nexus between voting, the formation of governments and the construction of public policy – including, of course, policies that come under the rubric of ‘law and order’. Regional and rural voters have worried about the scope for their policy demands to be overwhelmed by the concerns of urban communities that, in most Australian states, constitutes what might be thought of as a majority. This chapter seeks to shine light on the notions of a rural-urban divide, its consequences for the party system and its impact on policy formation. It will highlight some important demographic differences between the metropolis and the regions and note the propensity for voter volatility to manifest itself in party choices especially where multi-member proportional representation occurs. The success of independents and minor parties may be an indication of regional voter disillusion with the traditional political parties of rural Australia, the Liberal and National parties.

Abstract

The seachange phenomenon has recently returned to the policy and planning agenda in Australia owing to some recent data showing new movement patterns out of capital cities. This chapter presents a discussion around this via review of the literature in the areas of amenity migration, counter-urbanisation and lifestyle migration. It further proposes, through demographic research into the region of Gippsland in Victoria, that we need to begin to better understand the motivations for shifting away from the capital cities and the flow on impacts in local communities. Among these impacts are coastal populations in various stages of flux, transforming communities based on local, familiar ties and an enduring relationship to place with new residents from far and wide. As these communities and places are ‘opened up’ through permanent, semi-permanent and visitor populations, more work is required to understand the local place as one that is increasingly inclusive of converging mobile lives, driving communities in transition and renegotiations of identity, belonging and security.

Abstract

Disasters significantly reduce the accessibility of justice particularly in rural locations. The bushfires, which ravaged three states in the south-east of Australia in late 2019 and early 2020, have had catastrophic social and economic impacts on people, animals and places in rural areas. In the aftermath of disasters, people by necessity must inevitably avail themselves of legal advice and services: to negotiate new business contracts; re-mortgage property; access wills and testaments; attend court; and for a host of other matters. In rural communities, where access to legal services is already limited by distance and circumstance, disasters create increased demand, and access issues are accentuated. This chapter explores access to justice issues in post-disaster context and as they relate to rural, regional and remote communities. It draws upon post-disaster experiences nationally and internationally, outlining responses to improve access to legal services past and present, identifying effective responses. It argues that rurality creates additional barriers and reduces access to justice, and that disasters exacerbate existing access issues as well as creating new challenges.

Index

Pages 181-185
Content available
Cover of Crossroads of Rural Crime
DOI
10.1108/9781800436442
Publication date
2021-05-19
Editors
ISBN
978-1-80043-645-9
eISBN
978-1-80043-644-2