Professor Don Weatherburn from NDARC presented at the 2020 NDARC Webinar Series on Thursday, 9 April 2020.

This weminar is an examination of the explanations for the fall in crime in Australia between 2001 and 2019.

Between 1975 and 2000 in Australia, the motor vehicle theft rate doubled, the break and enter rate doubled, the general theft rate more than doubled, the robbery rate rose by more than 500 percent and the assault rate increased by a factor of 10. From 2001 onwards, rates of these same offences declined by between 40 and 70 percent. At least 14 different theories have been put forward to explain the fall, including the removal of lead from petrol, abortion law reform, the aging population, reduced illegal drug use and increased imprisonment rates, to name a few. 

In this seminar Professor Weatherburn examines the empirical evidence for and against some of these theories. He concludes that the fall in crime was likely caused by several interacting factors, including the Australian heroin shortage, an aging population, an increase in the risk of apprehension and the collapse of the stolen goods market. 

Speaker Bio:

Professor Don Weatherburn PSM, FASSA

Don Weatherburn is a Professor at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and was for 31 years before that Executive Director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research 1988. He was awarded a Public Service Medal in January 1998, an Alumni Award for Community Service by the University of Sydney in 2000 and made a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2006. He has published three books and more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, reports, and book chapters on crime and criminal justice. His most recent book, “The Case of the Vanishing Criminal”,  is being published by Melbourne University Press.


Professor Don Weatherburn
Date Commenced
09 Apr 2020
Resource Type
NDARC Seminars