In Summary

Dr Stephane Shepherd, Research Fellow from the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science at Swinburne University of Technology has won the prestigious 2015 Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship in Cultural Competence.

Dr Shepherd will collaborate with academics from the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Arizona and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to explore whether cultural engagement has an influence in deterring crime for Aboriginal people in custody. 

The scholarship will provide an opportunity to better understand the cultural needs of Aboriginal Australians in the criminal justice system, how they impact criminal behaviour and how risk markers can be addressed through culturally sensitive actions.

“It is an honour to receive a Fulbright scholarship and I will endeavour to utilise this exciting opportunity to improve cross-cultural outcomes in the field of forensic psychology,” Dr Shepherd said.

Dr Shepherd has a strong interest in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in contact with the justice system, stressing the need for developing culturally informed initiatives for offenders.

“Working with Tribal Law and Native Policy scholars in the US will provide a unique and relevant perspective on how cultural engagement and spirituality plays a role in building resilience and diverting Native Americans from the justice system,” he said.

From a broader perspective, the project expands cultural competency research to forensic settings.

“I anticipate this project will help in developing protocols for working as a culturally informed practitioner within forensic mental health,” Dr Shepherd said.

In 2010, Dr Shepherd was awarded a PhD scholarship in Forensic Psychology at Monash University. His thesis explored risk factors for violence across ethnicity and gender in Australian young offenders in custody.

Since receiving his doctorate in 2013, Dr Shepherd has worked as a postdoctoral research fellow and lecturer at the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science.

The Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind and was created by US Senator J William Fulbright and the US government in 1946. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it currently operates between the US and 150 other nations.

Dr Shepherd joins the ranks of twenty talented Australians to become a Fulbright Scholar in 2015.