ARC DECRA award for research to stop young people re-offending

September 2023

National Drug Research Institute researcher Shelley Walker has won a highly competitive Australian Research Council funding grant through the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme.

Based at NDRI in Melbourne, Shelley’s research project, ‘Police custody and young people: Informing human rights responses’, will focus on building new knowledge about young Australians’ experience of police custody to inform evidence-based solutions that protect their human rights while detained and help prevent future avoidable deaths in custody.

The research project will build on Shelley’s PhD research, undertaken jointly with NDRI and the Burnet Institute, which remains the only published Australian study examining the lived experiences of police custody for young people.

Shelley has a background in nursing and community development, including research and project implementation roles in the youth health sector in Australia and Cambodia.

“Building on my PhD research, this new study aims to improve the management and care of young people while held in police custody,” Shelley said. “Findings will inform targeted responses that address human rights concerns to ensure unmet health, safety and wellbeing needs are addressed.

“Intervening early in the criminal justice cycle can help divert young people from future criminal justice involvement. In doing so, significant social and economic benefits can be gained, including government savings in social services, policing, the courts and prisons.”

To find out more about Dr Shelley Walker’s research, click here