The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has recently completed research into the experiences of Koori women and the justice system. This project is one of the Commission's key responsibilities under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement 3.
The Commission worked with four focus groups composed of Koori female prisoners at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. The Commission also conducted five case study interviews with female prisoners and with Koori women who had left prison. In addition, 15 key informant interviews with people across the justice system, community service organisations, Magistrates and academics were undertaken.
The research also found that in 2012, 80 per cent of Koori women entering Victorian prisons were mothers. A high proportion of Koori women prisoners were themselves clients of child protection services as children. Many now have their children in informal or formal out-of-home care.
The report entitled Unfinished business: Koori women and the justice system is now available.
You can download the reports below or view online as a PDF.
The recently evaluated Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 2 (AJA2), identified that the development of effective diversionary options for Koori women remains one of the main unfinished tasks and was a priority recommendation. There has also been considerable advocacy and research on this issue.
Studies have shown that imprisoning Koori women on remand and during pre-sentence periods can have crippling, long-term effects on their families and the broader community, particularly when less than 15% of Koori women on remand ultimately receive custodial sentences.
These women are generally young and often impacted by violence and trauma. Their offences are predominantly property related, infringements and the execution of warrants.
Research reveals high rates of psychological affective disorders (depression, anxiety), and post traumatic stress disorder among Koori women in prison. These findings come from interim results from the Victorian Aboriginal Community Control Health Organisation (VACCHO).
For more information about this project please contact the project team on 9032 3405 or email [email protected].