The world is still a long way off from achieving the goal of peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Millions of people are still living in fragile and conflict affected states. At the end of 2019, 79.5 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide, translating to 1% of the global population.
– United Nations

Peace and justice are deeply embedded in the Victoria University ethos. We are the university of opportunity and success, committed to bringing together the diverse strands of our community – so all can benefit from the strength of those strands woven together.

Many of our programs directly promote inclusion, such as 'Aspire' for female Muslim leaders, and Moondani Balluk's Indigenous support and research.

In addition, we conduct research with direct policy outcomes to tackle the causes of crime and terrorist activity – with the aim of creating a more peaceful society.

16: Peace, justice & strong institutions

Research projects & engagement 2020-21

National Identity and Social Cohesion in a Time of Geopolitical and Economic Tension by Robert Walters explores human rights and international law and addresses the legal, social and political rationale and ramifications of highlighting identity by national states to increase and decrease population numbers for economic benefit.

Bill Swannie’s research explores questions of free speech, human rights law, equal opportunity law and media law and published a series of articles examining racial vilification and discrimination law in Australia. He is a member of the Law Institute of Victoria Human Rights Committee. Bill Swannie led the Australian Discrimination Law Experts Group, a team of more than a dozen Australian university law academics, in a submission to a NSW parliamentary inquiry into changes to discrimination complaints handling. The Group condemned proposed changes that would limit access to justice and exclude legitimate complaints.

The Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) group has been engaged in a series of applied research projects for preventing radicalisation, promoting social cohesion and countering terrorism for safe and inclusive communities. Four major reports for international, national and state partners were completed in 2020 on: assessing terrorism risk, evaluation of police case management, understanding vulnerabilities to right-wing extremism and identifying transitions to violent attacks.

The group’s research informs the state and national government, local councils and evaluation of policing processes to early intervention, diversion from extremism and countering militancy.

Associate Professor Debra Smith of PCVE co-leads the Applied Security Science Partnership (ASSP) that brings together police, security practitioners and academics to build robust evidence on behavioural indicators of violent extremism. Debra was also part of the expert panel commissioned for the independent review of effective case management and information sharing barriers relevant to violent extremism.

The PCVE group report on Dissenting citizenship? Understanding vulnerabilities to right-wing extremism on the local level was used to inform the establishment of the Wyndham Anti-racism Support Network, the first of its kind in Australia.

Debra Smith and Mario Peucker from the group conducted workshops and reviews for capability building for the Victoria Police and local councils to increase understanding of vulnerabilities to extremism and effective early interventions to prevent radicalisation leading to violence, including a forum open to the public Learning about Hate: Creating a Connected Community.

The Ripple Effect project conducted by Sir Zelman Cowan Centre (SZCC) with funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board, brought together ten faith leaders from Victoria’s diverse faith-based communities representing six different faith groups to upskill and support these leaders to deliver governance workshops to the boards of their organisations. During the pandemic, the program was delivered online to support participants to acquire technical skills in online facilitation and use of online resources.

In June 2020, SZCC hosted Governing in a Crisis, a forum for community leaders examining the effects of COVID-19 on faith-communities in Victoria. The panel reflected on the support faith-based organisations are providing to individuals in crisis due to the pandemic, how communities are managing to worship together while being apart, and how good governance practices can help faith-based organisations meet the needs of their communities in these challenging times.

Professor Ramon Spaaij served as scientific expert to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on preventing violent extremism through sport. His research is cited extensively in UNODC’s new Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport: Technical Guide, for which he was also an expert reviewer and member of the UNODC Expert Group.

The Victoria Police Diversity Program is a collaboration with the Victoria Police and community organisations to provide employment opportunities for people from African-Australian, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and refugee backgrounds in the police force. Five graduates of the program have joined the Police Academy, 28 have passed the police exam and 51 participants are progressing through recruitment and employment pathways.

 Dr Mario Peucker with community members

Research groups addressing Goal 16

Programs addressing Goal 16