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Professor earns rare honour for research and development of policing reforms 

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A Sunshine Coast expert in policing and crime prevention is among four Australians to receive one of the nation’s highest accolades.

Professor Lorraine Mazerolle was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to education, to the social sciences as a criminologist and researcher, and to the development of innovative, evidence-based policing reforms.

Prof Mazerolle, who is helping to tackle Queensland’s youth crime crisis, has held key roles at multiple universities, institutions and groups for more than 20 years.

She has received a bevy of awards for her efforts to improve the relationships between the justice system and the community.

The 59-year-old said she was delighted to be acknowledged with an AC, which is the highest honour amid the Order of Australia.

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“I’m very humbled,” she said.

“I can’t do the work I do without a fantastic team around me, and I’ve had some amazing students and colleagues working with me at the University of Queensland for many years.”

She said she was captivated by criminology from a young age.

“Back in the day, in Adelaide, there were a lot of high-profile child abductions – there was the Beaumont children, and the two little girls who went missing from Adelaide Oval during a football match,” she said.

“Some boys were being taken off the street and there were some high-profile murders.

“As a young teenager I couldn’t quite comprehend how this could happen, so I became really fascinated with it.”

Professor Lorraine Mazerolle is a leading criminologist in Australia.

She took an indirect route to pursue her interests.

“In those days there was no criminology, so I actually went to university and studied economics and I found a course, sociology of deviance, so I took that, and I was hooked,” she said.

She got a job working for the Office of Crime Statistics in South Australia and later received an opportunity to go to the United States and do her Masters and PhD in criminology. She spent a decade working there before returning to Australia and conducting major studies.

An experimental criminologist, Prof Mazerolle and her teams have conducted large, randomised field trials, mainly with police, to ultimately try to improve elements of the justice system.

“We look at innovative new practices and test them to see whether or not they work and ensure they don’t bring about any community harm,” she said.

“That’s been my focus for about the last 30 years.”

Prof Mazerolle said much of her work was focused on improving the relationships between police and the community.

She and her team at the University of Queensland ran a world-first trial to test the principles of procedural justice policing.

It involved “giving voice to victims, engaging with people with dignity and respect, and building trust in communities”.

“What we found was that when the police used these communication engagement styles, crime reduced and people were more cooperative with police and had better encounters with police,” she said.

“That trial has been replicated all over the world.”

Professor Lorraine Mazerolle at home on the Sunshine Coast.

She and her team also ran a trial that partnered police with groups, particularly schools, working with disengaged young people.

“We’ve got a youth crime problem now, so a lot of our work has been looking at the way police and schools can work together and really re-engage at-risk kids and get them back into some sort of learning environment – not necessarily the same school they’re skipping a lot of, but some sort of learning environment that can actually start to turn their lives around,” she said.

Prof Mazerolle said she and her teams had discovered methods that don’t work.

“We spend a lot of time coming up with innovative new things to try, but we also test practices that people think are fantastic – and we find that they’re not so fantastic and they make the problem worse,” she said.

She said boot camps for troubled young people were an example.

“People intuitively think it’s a great idea (but) all it does is increase the anti-social networks for these kids,” she said.

“The work we do is (focused) on integrating them, so young people have enough pro-social influences in their lives.

“Peers are so important for young people and giving them opportunities to develop pro-social relations is really fundamental.”

Prof Mazerolle was recently appointed to the Independent Ministerial Advisory Council, which provides the state government with advice, guidance and the perspective of victims, on how the state can reform the criminal justice system and support for victims, particularly in relation to youth crime.

Youth crime appears to be a statewide issue. Picture: Shutterstock

When asked why she was so committed to her roles, she said she wanted to help “make the world a better place”.

“I know that sounds kind of cliched but I’ve dedicated my life to trying to solve some problems and build better outcomes for people,” she said.

“There’s a lot of problems out there and my contributions are pretty specific, but I think if everyone does their bit then we can maintain our wonderful life here in Australia.”

Prof Mazerolle moved from Brisbane to Warana about two years ago and spends about 60 per cent of her time in the capital due to her work at the university.

She thanked her husband and their children for their support over the years and said she was enjoying the Sunshine Coast lifestyle.

“I’m trying to get a bit of work-life balance and what better place to do that than on the Sunny Coast,” the keen golfer said.

Others to receive AMs are Victorian Emeritus Professor David Boger, for service to chemical engineering and to the environment; New South Wales’ Catherine Livingstone, for service to business and to the arts; and Queensland’s Professor Deborah Terry, for service to tertiary education and to the community.

Other local Australia Day award recipients

A selection of Sunshine Coast residents were appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) or received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Julia Davison, of Noosa Heads, was appointed an AM for significant service to children, to youth and to the community.

She was the founding chief executive officer of Goodstart Early Learning and has been the director of the Cape York Girl Academy since 2015. She has held key positions on health and business boards and held main roles with major insurance and health organisations.

Bronwyn Edinger with Brendan Maher at the PAC Australia Conference (national voice for performing arts).

Bronwyn Edinger was appointed a AM for significant service to the performing arts through administrative roles.

She has held positions with multiple arts groups around the country, including Create NSW and Performing Arts Connections Australia.

She is the current chief executive officer at the Sunshine Coast Events Centre, taking over in the role from late 2022.

RSPCA Noosa’s Nicole Cleary and one of the cat guests.

Nicole Cleary, of Peregian Springs, received a OAM for service to animal welfare.

She has been the manager of the Noosa Shelter for RSPCA Queensland since 1995.

Dr Brian Hoepper, of Peregian Beach, received a OAM for service to education.

He has held multiple roles with the Queensland History Teachers’ Association and held positions with the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority and Education Queensland. Dr Hoepper has also been involved with other educational groups on a state and national level.

Winston Johnston has been involved with councils during the past couple of decades.

Councillor Winston Johnston, of Maleny, received a OAM for service to local government, and to the community of the Sunshine Coast.

He has been the councillor for Sunshine Coast Council Division 5 since 2020 and was councillor for Caloundra City Council Division 2 from 1982 to 1991.

He is the president of the Maleny Show Society and former president of the Maleny Blackall Range Lions Club. Cr Johnston has also been involved with several community and business groups, and the Liberal National Party, and was a founding directory of Your Insurance Brokers.

Allen Reed, of Maroochydore, received a OAM for service to the community of Maroochydore.

He held key roles with the Maroochydore Residents’ Association, the Millwell Road Community Centre and has been a Justice of the Peace for more than 25 years.

Sunshine Coast surf lifesaving and charity champion, Tim Ryan, received an OAM for his inspirational work in the community.

Mr Ryan, a Life Member of Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club and current president of the Sunshine Coast Branch, was a Founding Director of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and has contributed as a board member with Crime Stoppers Queensland and as chairman of Wishlist, Sunshine Coast Health Foundation.

Also honoured with an OAM was Morgan Parker, for his contribution to business.

Mr Parker has been chair of SunCentral since April 2021 and a board member since 2015. SunCentral was established by Sunshine Coast Council to oversee the development of the new Maroochydore City Centre on Council’s behalf.

Meanwhile, two locals received Meritorius Awards, for their roles with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.

Paul Marden, of Pomona, received an Australian Fire Service Medal. He was acknowledged as a leader in training auxiliary firefighters and enhancing the operational capability across the region.

He is an expert in HAZMAT and road crash rescues. He has trained, mentored and supported more than 1000 auxiliary firefighters and has been instrumental in leadership of large incidents and was among the first crews at the 2019 Noosa bushfires.

Gary McCormack with emergency services mascots in 2021.

Assistant Commissioner Gary McCormack, of Birtinya, received an Australian Fire Service Medal. He was acknowledged for distinguished service over 28 years, with a history of outstanding performance and leadership across multiple hazards.

He was commander of state operations during significant parts of the Queensland bushfire season in 2018, and commander of North Coast regional operations during the major 2019 Peregian bushfire, the 2020 K’gari bushfire and during multiple floods in 2022.

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