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The Crime Paradox

Wenlei Ma, Kate McClymont, Don Weatherburn
Chaired by Ann Mossop
Sat 17 September 2:00pm
Sat 17 September 2:00pm
The data on crime, the inmate numbers and our obsession with crime stories do not add up – why?

Rates of almost all crime in Australia have declined dramatically in recent decades, as they have in much of the rest of the world, with sexual assault a notable exception to this decline. But as crime has declined, the number of people in prison has increased alarmingly. Meanwhile in the world of popular culture, crime is everywhere. We are obsessed with crime stories making them major box office in every medium from the page to podcast to the big screen. What is going on? 

Of all the tools available to government to deal with crime, one of the weakest is imprisonment and that’s the one they reach for every time.
Don Weatherburn

Wenlei Ma

Wenlei Ma is the TV and film critic for where she writes reviews and features about movies and streaming. She is a weekly contributor on RN Breakfast, a regular on ABC Nightlife and her film reviews are syndicated in The Sunday Telegraph. She has been a journalist for more than a decade, has been published in Empire and AdNews, was featured on ABC TV’s China Tonight and is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved “Top Critic”.


Kate McClymont

Kate McClymont is an investigative journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald. She is a nine-time winner of journalism’s most prestigious award, the Walkley, including the Gold Walkley for her coverage of the Bulldogs salary cap rorts. She was named the 2012 NSW Journalist of the year for her investigations into the fraudulent activities of Michael Williamson, the head of the Health Services Union and the business activities of former NSW Labor minister, Eddie Obeid.


Don Weatherburn

Don Weatherburn is a Professor at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and was formerly Executive Director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Prior to that appointment, Professor Weatherburn was foundation Research Director at the Judicial Commission of New South Wales. He graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in Psychology and was awarded a Ph.D. by that university in 1979. He has published on a wide range of topics including sentencing, criminal justice administration, crime prevention, drug law enforcement, harm reduction and program evaluation. He has authored or co-authored 229 publications, including four books, over 100 peer reviewed journal articles, nine chapters in books and 121 reports.


Ann Mossop

Ann Mossop is the Director of the Centre for Ideas at UNSW Sydney, a new program designed to contribute to public conversations about important ideas and issues. Previously, as Head of Talks and Ideas at the Sydney Opera House from 2010-2017, she established the Opera House’s extensive talks and ideas program and lead key projects like the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and All about Women. Throughout her career she has been involved with important initiatives to bring the work of writers and thinkers to broader audiences, from the pioneering series Writers in the Park to the re-establishment of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.