• The five key areas of research and training

    The Centre supports a broad array of research, which is largely practice-based (i.e., designed to inform decisions related to interview practices and training design). Our research also addresses the relationship between investigative interview quality and specific case characteristics and organisational processes. Interview processes are studied across numerous domains. These include the following:

    For more information about our courses, please contact Professor Martine Powell.

    Interviewing of vulnerable witnesses

    Best-practice interviewing of children and vulnerable adults is a major area of focus in the Centre. Our research includes children across all stages of development and our work with vulnerable adults focuses on how to accommodate complex communication needs, trauma history and cultural and linguistic diversity.

    Our philosophy is that regardless of background and communication style, all persons can and do have the right to report crimes, the right to be believed and the right to have the appropriate legal ramifications brought down upon those people who commit crimes against them. The onus of responsibility for promoting accurate and detailed recall rests primarily with the interviewer because Individual differences in accuracy are minimised with open questions.

    The Centre offers customised training programs informed by evidence-based research about how to enhance narrative detail from vulnerable witnesses. We equip professionals with the knowledge and skills to conduct interviews in a legally defensible and developmentally appropriate manner while meeting local legislation, and the needs of the individual interviewee, interviewer, organisation and cultural context.

    General adult interviewing

    Centre collaborators are involved in long-term research to determine the best ways of gathering information from adult complainants and suspects of sexual offences. The utility of existing interview techniques is also being explored in other contexts, such as violent offending, threat management, diplomatic security, forensic mental health, and disciplinary investigations.

    Training programs are tailored to the individual needs of each organisation to ensure effective transfer of new interview methods to the field.

    Medical interviewing

    Research on what constitutes effective interviewing and interviewer training in the medical context is in its infancy. Our researchers are establishing a track record in this area through systematic evaluation of the prior literature and the techniques currently used by expert and novice medical interviewers.

    Once we establish the aims, challenges and ideal measures of interviewing in the medical context, we will work to translate the findings into effective training activities, which can then be disseminated amongst the medical community.

    Interviewing children in the family court setting

    Interviewing children for family law purposes is a contentious area, with considerable variability in practices and little research to guide professionals. Our research is multi-faceted, focusing on how children are currently being interviewed, the effect of various techniques, and how current knowledge about children’s memory can be applied in the family law context.

    We anticipate that this research will forge the way toward development of tailor-made training courses for family court professionals such as psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and independent children’s lawyers.

    General health/diet communication

    Childhood obesity costs Australia alone nearly $60 billion every year. Prevention and treatment depends on the accurate assessment of a major risk factor – dietary intake. Dietary assessment relies on children accurately remembering what they consumed, but research consistently shows that their reports are often incorrect.

    We have embarked on a program of research to improve children’s reports about dietary intake. In a world-first study, we are examining how children are being interviewed about their diets and the accuracy of these methods. As with our other research pillars, our long-term vision is to articulate best-practice interview technique and to develop evidence-based training for professionals who work in this specialised area.

    A number of students are currently conducting research projects with the Centre. Some of these students are listed here.