Youth justice and sex offending

Young people who sexually offend: An evaluation of the Tasmanian Youth Justice System

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

This project seeks to evaluate how well the Tasmanian youth justice system (YJS) is responding to sex offences committed by minors. The spectrum of potential offending behaviour is broad and striking the right YJS response is challenging. The project will be significant nationally and internationally because it will, among other things, examine how the YJS has responded to the:

  • Increase in cyber-sex offences committed by minors, including image-based abuse (IBA). A study of 4,274 Australians aged 16 to 49 years found that 20 percent had sexual or nude images taken of them without their consent, 11 percent reported that such images were distributed without their consent, and nine percent had received a threat that such an image would be distributed (Powell et al. 2018). IBA offending by minors can result in significant psychological distress for the young people depicted in the material and their families (Office of the e-Safety Commissioner 2017).
  • Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In theory, the Tasmanian YJS, including ‘restorative justice’ practices, could effectively responding to harmful behaviours by: (1) diverting youths who exhibit problematic sexualised behaviours, or sexually abusive behaviours, to appropriate therapeutic services; (2) addressing the needs of victims; and (3) reducing recidivism through early intervention.

Your PhD will evaluate the YJS against each of these objectives with a mixed method research design, incorporating: legal analyses; quantitative data analysis; qualitative assessment of diversion practices; and interviews with expert stakeholders.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Jeremy Prichard


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Jeremy Prichard to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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