THE first attempt in more than 20 years to build an understanding of rural crime on a national scale has been launched by the University of New England’s Centre for Rural Criminology.
The Centre’s 2023 Australian Farm Crime Survey asks landholders to detail their experiences of rural crime, and seeks opinions about the effectiveness of crime prevention.
The survey seeks to gain a better understanding of the climbing rate of rural crime from the perspective of farmers and landholders.
This national survey follows the Centre’s 2020 New South Wales Farm Crime Survey, the results of which had far-ranging impacts on policing of rural crime in NSW.
Among other issues, the NSW survey highlighted farmers’ frustration at their inability to monitor stock against theft.
In response, UNE supported a smart-tag trial that proved that following a theft, stock could be tracked by police.
The centre’s co-director Dr Kyle Mulrooney said in order to combat farm crime, police and policymakers needed better information from those involved in farming who have key insights into the important issues.
“Increasing the capacity to fight farm crime is crucial,” Dr Mulrooney says.
“This survey puts the farmers’ voice front and centre, allowing us to gain a better understanding of the scope of the problem, as well as find out what measures might be taken by the government, police, farmers and rural communities to reduce farm crime across Australia.”
The national survey will seek perspectives from landholders large and small from across Australia.
The information will be used to build an understanding of landholder attitudes towards current policing and justice system responses to rural crime, which may eventually inform future crime prevention measures.
Support from VFF
The Victorian Farmers Federation has urged its members take part in UNE’s latest Australian Farm Crime Survey.
“This is the first national survey to have been undertaken in two decades and the results will provide invaluable insight into farm crime across Australia,” VFF president Emma Germano said.
“Livestock theft in Victoria alone has hit a 10-year high, costing farmers a staggering $6.7 million last year.
“We know farm crime is under-reported, so the real figure could easily be much higher.”
“Whether it be theft involving livestock, farm equipment or property damage and illegal trespass, farm crime has an enormous financial impact and can be a terrifying experience for farming families and staff, which can’t be tolerated.”
Ms Germano said the results of the survey would be used to advocate for greater resources and awareness campaigns to combat farm crime.
“It’s so important that as many Victorian farmers as possible take part in the survey to ensure issues faced by local farmers are understood.”
“The results will help provide the VFF with valuable insight and data which can be used in our advocacy for greater government action in dealing with farm crime.”
Source: UNE, VFF