Whether you want to know more about our goals for developing a new model of working with incarcerated mothers and their children, the first steps in this project, or our project partners, you will find more information here.
Maternal imprisonment often arises from and results in a devastating lifecycle of intergenerational disadvantage. Although women in custody and their children are among the most vulnerable groups in society, they are also an often ‘invisible’ sector of the community. Many agencies and individuals are already working to provide vital support to mothers in prison and their children in the community. But the rising number of women in prison puts growing pressure on correctional and community service providers to meet the needs of this often highly disadvantaged and victimised group.
Recognising and addressing their needs requires the transformation of correctional approaches in Australia to reduce recidivism and to interrupt and prevent the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage.
Phase 1 of the Transforming Corrections to Transform Lives project focused on the co-creation of a new continuity of care program for mothers and children. This phase was completed in December 2021 and will be the basis for future phases of model development, implementation and evaluation.
Phase 2 has recently commenced. More information will be available soon.
The first stage of the Griffith-led project has been made possible through a partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation, whose mission is to break cycles of disadvantage in Australia. Beyond providing critical funding, the Foundation brings experience to help us change policy settings, connect with policy entrepreneurs, and identify policy levers. Their expertise will contribute to the co-creation of programs and policy reform and connecting experts and key stakeholders nationally.
“The challenges facing children whose mothers are in custody are unique, tragic and lead to multiple elements of deep disadvantage,” Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO Professor Glyn Davis AC said. “With the right partners we know we can do better for these vulnerable children and give them a better chance in the lottery of life.”
Griffith Criminology Institute (GCI) is one of the largest, most vibrant and high-performing criminology communities in the world. Through collaboration and innovation our research is helping find answers and solutions to universal problems. One of the six key challenges the Institute seeks to address is to break cycles of crime and inequality. We recognize that crime clusters in demographic, family, economic, social and environmental patterns, which over time reinforce disadvantage and inequality. Our project is central to this work and builds on our internationally recognised expertise and leadership in research with incarcerated parents and their children, with disadvantaged communities and young people, with bringing together the research-practice nexus through work with the community sector, and with translation of research into policy development. Our project aligns with the Institutes mission to better understand these cycles of disadvantage and prevent their recurrence, to improve life outcomes for individuals and communities.
This project aligns with Queensland Corrective Services commitment to reform service delivery for women. Their newly established Women’s Estate seeks to advance a gender-responsive and trauma-informed approach to managing women in order to support them to rehabilitate, reconnect with their community, and make positive change. We will work in partnership with the Department to achieve these common goals.
Former Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner, now Professor of Practice at Griffith University, Peter Martin said that women in prison overwhelmingly identify as being victims of domestic and family violence. “We are aware that women have a vastly different trajectory leading to incarceration than men, with common features of poverty, childhood abuse and abusive relationships,” he said. “We also know that having a parent in prison makes a child many more times likely than their peers to end up incarcerated themselves”.
“This is why Queensland Corrective Services is taking a trauma-based approach to women in prison as a part of the Women’s Estate project. We are excited to be partnering with Professor Dennison and her research team to identify ways to better support women prisoners and their children to try to break that cycle of incarceration.”