This literature review was commissioned by Corrections Victoria (CV), Department of Justice (DoJ) in 2013 to examine national and international research outcomes regarding the operation of community service schemes in community corrections, to identify effective models and a set of best practice principles. As the aim of the research is exploratory, that is, to shed new light on the operation of community service schemes and also identify knowledge gaps, a literature review was considered the most appropriate methodology.
Through discussion with research and community service experts from Corrections Victoria (CV) and following the findings of a brief, initial scoping review undertaken by the researchers, it was apparent that the way in which community service has been used over time, both nationally and internationally, appears to have evolved from purely a punishment or sanction to a recognition that it may provide a potential for opportunity for meaningful rehabilitation. Keen to exploit such an opportunity, CV identified the following knowledge gaps:
What constitutes successful outcomes in community service schemes?
How can community service participants’ compliance and completion rates be improved?
What is evidence-based practice in the operation of community service schemes?
Thus, the following general research question was formed to guide this review:
‘What are the identifiable best practice principles and models for the operation of community service schemes in community corrections?’
The review systematically poses this general research question when examining the available literature and identifies any knowledge gaps pertinent to the research area. A systematic literature review was chosen as an appropriate methodology that suits the exploratory nature of the research question and can assist to identify research knowledge and gaps in the knowledge, important for practice.