Business and government Featured Health and wellbeing

Australia’s unfair generational inheritance?

Julie Blakey

The 2024-2025 Australian budget was very focused on the immediate, ‘a budget for the here and now’, targeted at the cost-of-living crisis, but despite many mentions of the future in the Treasurer’s speech, it is still not clear what current planning and policy holds for future generations and the crises they might face?

Griffith University researchers were in Canberra for a budget night analysis on the impact of the 2024-2025 Australian Federal Budget on Future Generations.  The team, along with other members of the EveryGen analysed what some of the key budget issues might mean for a baby born on budget night 2024 – would they be happy or sad?

There weren’t many ‘happy babies’ in their analysis, but more importantly it provided many insights into how future thinking might be able to help us improve long-term approaches in budgets and avoid future crises.

"We weren't so concerned with winners and losers, but with providing a unique perspective on how the 2024-2025 federal budget would impact on someone born on budget day 2024 and what it meant for them. "
Short termism

The federal budget lays out spending for the next financial year by portfolio and the costs of policies over the next four years in the forward estimates. It is major event on the federal political calendar and always results in furious analysis, usually in the form of reporting on the ‘Winners and Losers’.

In fact, in a peculiar tradition, journalists are ‘locked in’ – given a paper copy of the budget several hours before the formal announcement of the budget at 7:30 pm and are unable to leave Parliament (or more recently their offices) nor share the content in anyway. As a result, budget night is a furious rush to read and analyse the Budget and produce articles for the next day’s media cycle. While the Griffith team didn’t join a formal ‘lock up’ but hosted their own in Canberra – downloading and analysing the budget as the Treasurer Dr. Jim Chalmers gave his speech. We weren’t so concerned with winners and losers, but providing a unique perspective on what someone born on budget day might feel about the what the budget means for them.

Of course, the budget is not (nor should be) written only with future generations in mind. Many budget items are to address immediate problems, such as energy rebates to ease cost of living. However, some budget items are inherently long-term, particularly defence spending which can have decade-long timeframes, as with the AUKUS submarine agreement. And many budget measures have implications long into the future, whether or not this is the explicit focus.

This longer-term focus is important for several reasons. Complaints of the ‘short termism’ of policy is an all-too-common refrain, with policy driven by 3–4-year electoral cycles more that the issues of the day. Crucially, some of biggest challenges we face today – climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution – are issues that have massive impacts long into the future – 50, 100 or even 1000-year timescales. A long-term view can even help current generations – might we have avoided a housing crisis if we had taken a longer-term view 20 years ago?

For example, what if instead of $300 electricity bill rebates paid to every household, the government had invested in thermal efficiency upgrades, electrification and rooftop solar for people on low-incomes, who could then save up to $6,000 annually on their home energy bills according to ACOSS. Would it grab the headlines? Add inflationary pressure? Win an election? But might it be better for future generations is a question rarely asked.

A future generations budget analysis

EveryGen team’s analysis looked at defence, housing, tax, infrastructure, mental health and the ‘Future Made in Australia’ policy, as well as considering broader issues such as climate change and the environment. It is very noticeable from the analysis that climate change and environmental issues are not front and centre of the budget despite being vital when thinking about the future and intergenerationally – and this results in a number of sad babies.

For example, the Government’s stated ambition is to build 1.2 million houses in the next 5 years. But our future generations analysis shows that ultimately, this budget will likely create a whole new and different housing crisis for a baby born on Budget night. There is no mention of climate change, sustainability (in the context of climate change, Sustainable Development Goals or environment), adaptation, mitigation or transition mechanisms in the context of energy efficiency, which means that there are no assurances that future generations will be provided with adequate, sustainable, or resilient homes.

In terms of transport infrastructure, locking future generations into a car dependency by over-prioritising roads ahead of active travel and public transport is neither sustainable nor healthy for them, and potential climate impacts make it even worse should we fail to, or even be slow to, electrify road transport.

Defence spending is important because of the potential existential risks now and into the future, but the commensurate risk of climate change is far higher – we know the impacts are coming, compared to the highly uncertain risk of an invasion or major war occurring. Yet climate change does not receive anything like the same budget.

Analysis of the tax cuts might provide some immediate relief on the cost of living, but these impacts are unlikely to affect future generations. More ambitious systemic changes are needed to make the tax system work more fairly for those being born today.

Even the Future Made in Australia, which is focused investment in green and decarbonisation industries, might not do well in a future generations analysis. The budget has little to nothing for conserving the environment and biodiversity or addressing threats to it. Green industries are important for the future, an environment that can sustain us is even more so, but is under severe threat. Helping one without the other does not serve future generations well.

voting intention
How to take the long-term view?

We argue that the Federal Treasury should provide an accompanying Budget Analysis Statement that helps Australian citizens understand:

  1. How future trends and scenarios should be influencing investment decisions for the long term;
  2. How investment in prevention should be happening across Government; and
  3. How system-wide, integrated approaches can be facilitated through budget decisions.

We have asked these questions based on the Welsh Future Generations Act methodology and we used the 2023 Intergenerational Report on future trends and Measuring what Matters frameworks (for system-wide integrated approaches) as our guide. There is no current methodology used by the Australian government for investment in prevention although there are key policies on disaster risk reduction preventative health. There are also plans for a National Climate Risk Assessment.

Thinking about future generations brings to the fore issues that we might otherwise not prioritise or address appropriately. It highlights key threats to systems that can be easily overlooked as we try to just manage our short-term issues, such as the climate and ecosystems. It shows us where our current thinking is locked into a status quo that is not suitable for addressing the challenged we face. Not every budget need be transformational, but we will need to transform what we do if we are going to give future generations reason to be happy with us.


EveryGen, convened by the Policy Innovation Hub at Griffith University, is a coalition of multidisciplinary policy experts collaborating to create an equitable, just and transformative path towards intergenerational justice. Collaborators include Australian National University and Foundations for Tomorrow.


Dr Ed MorganDr Ed Morgan is Research Fellow at the Policy Innovation Hub, Griffith University.

Dr Morgan’s research focuses on developing, implementing and evaluating policy, planning and governance for landscape and natural resource management, sustainable livelihoods, ecosystem-based climate change adaptation and environmental protection.

Professor Susan Harris RimmerProfessor Susan Harris Rimmer focuses on international human rights law, climate justice and gender equality in the Griffith Law School and is a member of the Law Futures Centre.
With Professor Sara Davies, Susan is co-convenor of the Griffith Gender Equality Research Network. Sue also leads the Climate Justice theme of the Griffith Climate Action Beacon. She is the founder of the EveryGen coalition which seeks to amplify the voices of current and future generations and highlight the long-term impacts of today’s policy decisions. EveryGen would like to see an Act of parliament, similar to The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, that was first adopted in Wales in 2016.

Natasha_HNatasha Hennessey is a Senior Research Assistant and Program Coodinator for Griffith University’s Climate Action Beacon. She has a background in Environmental Science (ecology and conservation) and Environmental Management, majoring in Climate Change Adaptation. Her work to date has focused on policy guidance on the barriers to implementation and supporting the development of programs for motivating climate action, climate change adaptation, sustainability and conservation across a broad range of disciplines.


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Australia’s budget fails to address the urgency of climate action

Julie Blakey

The Australian Government’s 2024 budget includes announcements on climate change. These announcements seem more fitting for a world before the Paris Agreement (2016) than the reality we face today. While many positive measures are included, the overall package falls well short of the bold and transformative action required to address the climate crisis at home and globally. The overall result indicates a focus on green industrial policy with less emphasis on short-term measures for reducing emissions and adaptation. We should not forget that Australia’s emissions are not decreasing. The idea of a climate emergency is based on science which indicates that there are only 6 years of the carbon budget that can be emitted if there is a 50% chance of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees. The budget is in a climate change deficit. This is a budget that one would expect from a government before the Paris Agreement in 2016.

Positive steps, lacking coordinated ambition

To its credit, the budget allocates significant funding towards several climate action-related priorities. These include many measures outlined in the table below. This analysis examines the immediate effect of budget measures on reducing emissions and adaptations in the short term (6 years). These are subjective ratings and thus there may be some debate directed towards individual assessments. However broad conclusions can be made about the focus of the budget. The budget lacks a focus on scaled-up, urgent emissions reduction and immediate action on climate adaptation.

Assessing urgent climate action measures
Budget Graph

Apart from incremental improvements to vehicle emissions standards and some small measures for energy efficiency for households, there are no large-scale measures to drive emissions downwards in the short term. This is a major missed opportunity to reduce emissions. It is yet to be seen how funds for reforming the carbon market will translate into real emissions reduction. The Budget also takes some positive steps on international climate diplomacy. More funding for the Treasury to examine the financial risk of climate change is much needed but is also an indicator of the magnitude of climate risks that Australia now faces. In summary, these incremental measures are dwarfed by the scale of the challenge.

"The budget is in deficit on climate action despite taking some positive steps towards a green economy. Scaling up, prioritising emissions reduction and building climate resilience are the next challenges for Australia."
Carbon Dioxide Emission
The way forward to reduce emissions at scale

Ultimately, this budget represents a missed opportunity to position Australia as a global leader in confronting the existential threat of climate change. What’s needed is a whole-of-economy mobilisation on par with the COVID-19 response, backed by immediate transformative investment in clean energy, prioritising emissions reduction measures, climate and community resilience and a just transition for impacted workers and communities. Actions to meet the challenge include:

  1. Set budget priorities in line with international mandates and Australia’s commitments. Set a more ambitious national target to achieve net-zero emissions (1.5-degree target) by 2030 or 2035 backed by a funding comprehensive decarbonisation roadmap across all sectors.
  2. Fund measures to rapidly phase out coal-fired power generation and invest heavily in deploying large-scale renewable energy sources like solar and wind, along with energy storage solutions. The Net Zero Authority can set this direction.
  3. Implement a robust, economy-wide carbon pricing mechanism, such as an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax, to drive emissions reductions. So far large carbon polluters in Australia have not been targeted at the pace required to meet Paris-aligned targets.
  4. Introduce stringent energy efficiency standards and provide incentives for households, buildings, and industries to improve energy productivity and reduce energy demand. Present measures are not at the scale required.
  5. Accelerate the transition to electric vehicles through measures like robust fuel efficiency standards, EV subsidies, and nationwide charging infrastructure rollout. Some small steps were taken in this area and need to be scaled up.
  6. Prioritise protecting and restoring natural carbon sinks like native forests, wetlands, and grasslands through sustainable land management practices and Indigenous knowledge.
  7. Shift towards sustainable agriculture practices that reduce emissions from livestock, fertilizer use, and land-use change, while supporting farmers in the transition. Some small steps were taken in this area and need to be scaled up.
  8. Cease all new fossil fuel exploration and production projects and develop a clear roadmap to phase out existing fossil fuel industries in line with 1.5°C pathways.
  9. Allocate much-needed funding for climate adaptation and resilience measures to protect communities and ecosystems from escalating climate impacts like droughts, bushfires, and floods.
  10. Significantly increase funding for international climate finance to support developing countries, aligning with internationally mandated aid levels and fair share principles.

The budget is in deficit on climate action despite taking some positive steps towards a green economy. Scaling up, prioritising emissions reduction and building climate resilience are the next challenges for Australia. The window to avoid 1.5°C of warming is rapidly closing, and urgent emissions reductions are needed to have a higher chance of meeting the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target.


Dr Rob HalesDr Rob Hales is an Associate Professor in the Department of Business Strategy and Innovation and discipline lead for sustainability and management in the Griffith Business School. Dr Hales is the co-chair of the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education Australia-New Zealand


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In October 2023, federal parliament passed changes to Family Law Act affecting children’s cases. Repealing a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, new factors prioritise safety and child’s needs. Challenges lie in implementation and potential judicial discretion says Griffith Law School’s Zoe Rathus.

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Coal versus coral

Julie Blakey

In Gladstone/Yallarm/Koongoo, a gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and home to the deep-water channels of all day, peak hour shipping traffic, I hear the almost audible groan of the Australian climate cultural cringe.

This groan is heard aboard the resort catamaran as we leave Gladstone Habour for Heron Island Resort and the University of Queensland Research Station. We travel via the same harbour where ships arrive to transport fossil fuels.

One of my fellow travellers– clearly a Gladstone local – points to smelters as we pass, explaining to her Reef excited children, ‘THIS whole town exists because of THAT’.

And herein, epitomises the ‘cringe’. 

The Australian climate cultural cringe translates as a nation whose local and global identity has at once prided itself on a wealth of natural resources and simultaneously, our spectacular nature. 

The recognition that the removal of one is destroying the other is an Australian’s jagged pill, manifest in Gladstone and in conflicts throughout the nation.

Deep in our national psyche, we struggle to reconcile this cultural dissonance between pride in our beautiful Reef and our once prized but now Reef killing fossil fuels.

 It’s a lot.

Gladstone, Queensland

Back on our catamaran, as we chug along toward the bluest open waters, ginormous red rusted rectangles appear like an orderly queue of extraction. 

While our boat rocks and rolls with the swell, these ‘big boys’ – one of my fellow travellers unexpectedly observes their masculinity – sit motionless, immovable.

Tanker traffic dwarfs tourism and research station traffic from this city.  The universally reliable source of local insight, my cab driver, tells me that only around a third of Gladstone workers earn the ‘big money’ in the resources industry. 

He’s not far wrong with ABS data in 2021 finding around one in five Gladstone workers are ‘Technicians and Trades Workers’ and another quarter employed as ‘Labourers’ and ‘Machinery Drivers and Operators’. 

I guess many of these workers keep the ships and their cargo moving and their cargo in return – this week at least – keeps worker’s families and communities afloat. According to the Gladstone Ports Corporation in 2022, moving en masse 120 million tonnes of throughput per annum, around 80 per cent of which were exports.

So I begin tanker counting.  The child sitting across from me tells his family, ’33!  There’s 33!’.  And before I can do my own recount (I reckon he’s missed a few), someone yells, ‘Dolphins!’ and we all lose interest in the ship count.

We are easily distracted by marine life, drawn away from the extraordinary behemoth that is the industrial complex of Gladstone where coal, LNG and aluminium top the most shipped list. 

We are on our way to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Originally coined by AA Phillips in 1950 writing in the literary journal Meanjin, the ‘cultural cringe’ was targeted at Australian writers and their ‘inability to escape needless comparisons’, especially to their English counterparts.

 In contemporary vernacular, the cultural cringe signals a sense of cultural inferiority and simultaneously, a search for Australian identity and pride therein.  The idea signals a nation, unsure of itself, seeking the approval of others.

There hasn’t been much approval of late.

"How can we not cringe?  Day after day, we fail our own pub test, naked to the world as hypocrites and again, not as good as the others…whoever they might be, but they’re not from here."

The daily, increasingly heated (that’s intentional) brawls of fossil fuels and carbon emissions THIS, and the Great Barrier Reef and mass coral bleaching THAT, belts Australians making them collective repository of both fossil fuel shame and ecological collapse.

How can we not cringe?  Day after day, we fail our own pub test, naked to the world as hypocrites and again, not as good as the others…whoever they might be, but they’re not from here.

We jump to defend ourselves, we point fingers and we hang our heads. My cab driver tells me that Australia will never stop mining and in the very next breath, how hopeless he and his Gladstone community feel about the recent mass coral bleaching.

Exasperated, he asks, ‘What can we do about it?’. 

As was Phillip’s retort to the weight of English opinion in 1950, ‘[T]he nightingale does not sing under Aus­tralian skies’. We have our own ‘birds’. 

To be ‘unself-consciously ourselves’ at this critical moment is to know that it is not ‘coal vs coral’ but rather ‘coal and coral’ that beleaguers Australian communities and stymies homegrown climate action.  We’ve loved both.

It has been politically fruitful to enflame this tension between two great Australian loves, particularly during state and federal elections in regional Queensland and other places similarly positioned. 

‘Coal vs Coral’ becomes wedge politics of ‘regional vs urban’, ‘conservative vs progressive’, ‘left vs right’, men vs women’, ‘old versus young’ and the pinnacle, ‘jobs vs environment’.

But like dolphins spotted on a tourist boat in Gladstone harbour, these are distractions.  They mean we can’t see the proverbial Reef for the corals.


Phillip’s thought the cringe a greater enemy to cultural development than Australia’s isolation from the rest of the world. He suggested instead, not a ‘strut’ of likely the arrogant kind but rather a ‘relaxed erectness of carriage’.

Similarly, the Australian climate cultural cringe is a greater threat to our progress on climate action than the wrath from the rest of the world.

 Indeed, the cringe comes not from the recognition of who we are to the rest of the world, but the acknowledgment and acceptance of who we are to ourselves.

Australia is both coal and coral – not enemies but rather part of larger story of people and communities that we know best.

The Australian climate cultural cringe and the unhelpfulness of its conflicts feed national uncertainty and stall meaningful action.  

Realising that we are different boats the in same harbour – and indeed that both coral and coal share states of decline – could lead to more productive conversations and support for the urgency of change.

First published in Crikey


Dr Kerrie Foxwell-NortonDr Kerrie Foxwell-Norton is an Associate Professor of Environmental Communication at Griffith University. Her work focuses on ways to engage and inspire Australian communities to act on environmental and climate change challenges.

Dr Foxwell-Norton is a theme leader and member of the Griffith Climate Action Beacon and the Griffith Centre of Social and Cultural Research.


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Family Law Act overhauled

Julie Blakey

In October 2023, the federal parliament passed major changes to how children’s cases are decided under the Family Law Act, which kick in next month.

Among other things, they repeal a controversial legal presumption introduced in 2006. It was presumed that “equal shared parental responsibility” is in the best interests of children.

In many cases, this is true. But in cases of family violence, assuming both parents should have equal responsibility for a child can be dangerous.

The journey to having this presumption removed has been long and littered with countless reviews, inquiries and evaluations. How did it come to be in the first place, and what effect will these legal changes have on children?

Laws with baked-in problems

The 2006 reforms originated in a parliamentary inquiry established by the Howard government in 2003. Fathers’ rights groups led the charge for the inquiry and for equal time custody laws.

Equal shared parental responsibility is about the decion-making duties of parents regarding the big decisions in a child’s life such as education, religion and health. This is different to equal time, which is about where children actually live. It often involves the child swapping homes every week. Some children enjoy it, others feel like they are navigating two very different emotional spaces.

Because of the origins of the inquiry with fathers’ rights groups, the focus was on equal time as a starting point. It was not on finding out what actually works best for children after family breakdown.

The 2006 reforms did not contain a presumption of equal time, but they did include a presumption that equal shared parental responsibility is best for children.

A presumption is intended as strong message to judges and the legal system. It tells a judge the law says shared parenting is generally a good thing.

While that is true in some families, that can be a dangerous message to a decision-maker for families where there is violence or abuse. Although there were exceptions for family violence or child abuse, research showed orders for equal shared parental responsibility were made in many cases where there were serious allegations of family violence.

An order for equal shared parental responsibility meant parents had to consult each other about important decisions regarding their children. In some families this works well and ensures both parents have ongoing roles in their children’s lives after separation. Where there has been domestic violence, including coercive control, such an order provides the perpetrator of abuse with a legal channel to continue it.

Orders for shared parental responsibility also affected the daily lives of children and their parents. Once a judge made that order, they had to “consider” making an order for equal time, or what was called “substantial and significant” time order. This meant where orders for equal shared responsibility were made, orders for equal time or substantial and significant time were often made as well.

There was also a new list of factors a court had to take into account when deciding what was in a child’s best interests. It included the “benefit” of “meaningful” post-separation relationships with parents and the need for protection from harm. These two things could be difficult to reconcile.

Michaelia Cash says a Coalition government would overturn the reforms. Mick Tsikas/AAP
Review after review

Since 2006, there have been at least six formal inquiries into the family law system as well as commissioned evaluations and independent research.

Problems with the presumption and the dominance of the ideal of ongoing “meaningful” relationships are consistently reported, including by a 2017 parliamentary inquiry on family law. That report found the existing laws were “leading to unjust outcomes and compromising the safety of children”.

Much of the research has shown victims of family violence are told not to raise it – or feel unable to do so. Wanting to restrict or limit the perpetrators contact with the children, may be seen as being obstructive, rather than protective.

While the government baulked at touching the presumption in 2011 when it introduced changes to the act to improve its response to family violence, it’s now gone.

Needs of the child at the centre

The 2023 changes have also repealed the section about equal and substantial and significant time and simplified list of the best interests’ factors. The new factors include:

  • the safety of the child and others who have their care

  • the views of the child

  • their developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural needs

  • the capacity of each of the parents to provide these needs

  • the benefit to the child having a relationship each of their parents.

In terms of safety, the court must consider any history of family violence, abuse or neglect and any family violence order.

Implementation of the amended legislation will have its challenges.

Despite their flaws, the old laws did have useful guidance about what a court should think about if considering making order for equal (or lots of) time. And a judge can still make those orders despite the repeal of the presumption.

The old guidance included considering the parents’ capacity to implement a shared care arrangement and communicate with each other, and the impact of that kind of arrangement on the child. These considerations, which also influenced out-of-court negotiations, have been removed.

It will be interesting to see whether this will provide an opportunity for judges to develop thoughtful and creative orders tailored for the families they see, or whether it will just lead to uncertainty and inconsistency in outcomes.

Future reform processes (because there will be more) should consider restoring a list of factors relevant to shared parenting orders or arrangements.

Alternatively, or additionally, there could be a list of factors that prevent or caution against such arrangements – such as a history of family violence or abuse or an inability of the parents to communicate effectively.

Late last year, Shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said the changes “send a message to the courts that parliament no longer considers it beneficial for both parents to be involved in decisions about their children’s lives” and would be repealed under a Coalition government.

Her concerns aren’t borne out in the legislation. Nothing in these new laws takes away from the importance of both parents.

The government has listened to and acted on concerns about safety which have been expressed over many years. Now we should wait to see how they actually operate.


Zoe Rathus AM is a senior lecturer at the Griffith University Law School. Her research focuses on women and the law, particularly the family law system and the impact of family violence on women and children. Her current focus is on the problems with the term ‘parental alienation as applied in family law’. Zoe commenced in private legal practice in 1981 and was coordinator of the Women’s Legal Service between 1989 and 2004. She is currently Chairperson of the Immigrant Women’s Support Service and a member of the Queensland Law Society Domestic Violence Committee. Zoe has received a number of awards including Young Lawyer of the Year (1990) and Women Lawyer of the Year (2001). Zoe was awarded an Order of Australia in 2011 for her services to women, the law, Indigenous peoples and education.


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No magic wand

Julie Blakey

The goal of the Queensland government’s new Community Safety Plan is to make Queensland a safer place by reducing crime, particularly violent crime. A key plank of the plan is to expand police use of metal detector wands, even though there is no evidence that wands help reduce violent crime.

The plan commits to tripling the number of wands for police, and an increase in places where they can be used. Currently this is limited to nightclub zones and public transport, but the plan will see them also deployed in shopping centres, retail outlets, sport and entertainment venues, and licenced premises throughout the state. Police will be able to stop anyone in those places without needing to give a reason, use the wand and if it activates, search the person and their belongings. These searches take place in public.

However, there is no evidence that wanding reduces violent crime.

"Wanding did not reduce the use of weapons to commit crimes, and it did not deter people from carrying weapons, even when they knew there was a risk of being wanded."
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Our evaluation of the trial of wands on the Gold Coast showed they can increase detection of metal weapons, leading to increases in weapon-carrying charges. But there was no evidence that this in turn led to reduced violent crimes using knives.

One reason for this is that confiscated knives are easily replaced by new ones or by other weapons. Wanding did not reduce the use of weapons to commit crimes, and it did not deter people from carrying weapons, even when they knew there was a risk of being wanded.

We also found that wanding came with side effects. Allowing police to stop people without reasonable suspicion undermines human rights. And because police can’t wand everyone, everywhere, all the time, they must choose who to target. Our review found evidence of the use of unfair stereotypes in those choices, and the 2022 independent Inquiry into QPS also reported widespread racist and sexist attitudes among police. This can lead to negative police interactions with vulnerable people, and reduced trust in, and cooperation with, police.

Our review also found evidence that because of the effective increase in search powers, wanding led to increases in drug detections and charges, mainly for minor possession offences. This runs contrary to the government’s own new approach to drug diversion, and can increase the risk of further criminal involvement, especially for young people.

While recent horrific knife crimes have understandably led to calls for action, deterring knife carrying and preventing violent crime takes more than additional police and new equipment.

Understanding who carries knives and why is important, so that prevention efforts can be targeted for maximum impact. There is a clear need for more Australian research on what works to prevent knife crime, especially among young people. Government also needs to focus on more investment to address the multiple disadvantages faced by some young people that can lead to offending. This evidence is crucial to approaches that actually work to reduce violence and offending.

It is also important to consider that the government’s own statistics  show that crime rates across the state continue to fall, as recently acknowledged by the Premier and QPS, with the exception of domestic, family and sexual violence offences. Police resources should be directed at better responses to the urgent problems of family violence, and to addressing the systemic cultural problems among police raised by the recent Independent Inquiry.


Janet Ransley is a Professor in the Griffith Criminology Institute (which she led from 2018-August 2023) and School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (which she led from 2011-2015). Prior to joining Griffith as a Lecturer in 1999, she held senior policy positions with the Queensland Legislative Assembly and for the Criminal Justice Commission (now the Crime and Corruption Commission), and worked as a solicitor.

Nadine M. Connell is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminology & Criminal Justice. Her research focuses on juvenile delinquency, specifically in the domain of school safety. Her work examines the aetiology of school based violent victimization and perpetration as well as more extreme forms of youth violence, including drug use, weapon carrying, school shootings, and targeted violence. She works with schools and communities to implement and evaluate prevention and intervention strategies, with a particular interest in evidence based strategies for school safety.

Dr Margo van Felius is a Lecturer in Financial Crime in the Academy of Excellence in Financial Crime Investigation and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJ). She is a former Queensland Police Service Detective (working in child protection, organised crime, and economic crime) who completed her PhD in CCJ, receiving an Award of Excellence for her thesis: Improving the uptake of multi-agency and third-party policing partnerships: facilitators, barriers and the role of legal levers. Margo has a special interest in organised crime, transnational crime convergence, wildlife crime and money flows.

Shannon Walding is a Research Associate in the Griffith Criminology Institute and a HDR candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJ) at Griffith University.


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What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

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Around one in 20 people has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood and often continues into adulthood.

ADHD is diagnosed when people experience problems with inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that negatively impacts them at school or work, in social settings and at home.

Some people call the condition attention-deficit disorder, or ADD. So what’s the difference?

In short, what was previously called ADD is now known as ADHD. So how did we get here?

Let’s start with some history

The first clinical description of children with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity was in 1902. British paediatrician Professor George Still presented a series of lectures about his observations of 43 children who were defiant, aggressive, undisciplined and extremely emotional or passionate.

Since then, our understanding of the condition evolved and made its way into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM. Clinicians use the DSM to diagnose mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions.

The first DSM, published in 1952, did not include a specific related child or adolescent category. But the second edition, published in 1968, included a section on behaviour disorders in young people. It referred to ADHD-type characteristics as “hyperkinetic reaction of childhood or adolescence”. This described the excessive, involuntary movement of children with the disorder.

In the early 1980s, the third DSM added a condition it called “attention deficit disorder”, listing two types: attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADDH) and attention deficit disorder as the subtype without the hyperactivity.

However, seven years later, a revised DSM (DSM-III-R) replaced ADD (and its two sub-types) with ADHD and three sub-types we have today:

  • predominantly inattentive
  • predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
  • combined.
Why change ADD to ADHD?

ADHD replaced ADD in the DSM-III-R in 1987 for a number of reasons.

First was the controversy and debate over the presence or absence of hyperactivity: the “H” in ADHD. When ADD was initially named, little research had been done to determine the similarities and differences between the two sub-types.

The next issue was around the term “attention-deficit” and whether these deficits were similar or different across both sub-types. Questions also arose about the extent of these differences: if these sub-types were so different, were they actually different conditions?

Meanwhile, a new focus on inattention (an “attention deficit”) recognised that children with inattentive behaviours may not necessarily be disruptive and challenging but are more likely to be forgetful and daydreamers.

Why do some people use the term ADD?

There was a surge of diagnoses in the 1980s. So it’s understandable that some people still hold onto the term ADD.

Some may identify as having ADD because out of habit, because this is what they were originally diagnosed with or because they don’t have hyperactivity/impulsivity traits.

Others who don’t have ADHD may use the term they came across in the 80s or 90s, not knowing the terminology has changed.

How is ADHD currently diagnosed?

The three sub-types of ADHD, outlined in the DSM-5 are:

  • predominantly inattentive. People with the inattentive sub-type have difficulty sustaining concentration, are easily distracted and forgetful, lose things frequently, and are unable to follow detailed instructions

  • predominantly hyperactive-impulsive. Those with this sub-type find it hard to be still, need to move constantly in structured situations, frequently interrupt others, talk non-stop and struggle with self control

  • combined. Those with the combined sub-type experience the characteristics of those who are inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive.

ADHD diagnoses continue to rise among children and adults. And while ADHD was commonly diagnosed in boys, more recently we have seen growing numbers of girls and women seeking diagnoses.

However, some international experts contest the expanded definition of ADHD, driven by clinical practice in the United States. They argue the challenges of unwanted behaviours and educational outcomes for young people with the condition are uniquely shaped by each country’s cultural, political and local factors.

Regardless of the name change to reflect what we know about the condition, ADHD continues to impact educational, social and life situations of many children, adolescents and adults.

Originally published in The Conversation


Dr Kathy GibbsDr Kathy Gibbs has taught across a range of disciplines and held several high-profile teaching positions in schools in NSW and QLD. Dr Gibbs is currently the Program Director of the Bachelor of Education in the School of Education and Professional Studies (EPS) at Griffith University. Kathy is a member of the Board of Directors for ADHD Australia.


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