Social and Cultural Resilience and Emotional Wellbeing of Aboriginal Mothers in Prison (SCREAM)
Historically, Aboriginal women have been, and continue to be, the main carers and providers in their extended families. The increasing imprisonment of Aboriginal women is a major public health issue for Aboriginal communities and society as a whole. One way in which the burden of disease and cycle of incarceration within families can be addressed is by improving health outcomes for incarcerated Aboriginal mothers and female carers.
Aboriginal women are the fastest growing group within the Australian prison population. The number of Aboriginal women in prison in Australia has more than doubled since 1997. In 2007, Aboriginal women comprised 31% of women in prison but only 2% of the population. Aboriginal women are incarcerated at seventeen times the rate of non-Aboriginal women.
Aboriginal women prisoners suffer multiple disadvantages and face race, gender and health discrimination. The health and treatment needs of these women have been overlooked in research as has research of the health and justice agencies. An integrated approach is needed.
The Social and Cultural Resilience of Aboriginal Mothers in Prison (SCREAM) study is a four-year National Health and Medical Research Council funded Project. The setting for the study is prisons in New South Wales and Western Australia housing ten or more women. These are Berrima, Emu Plains, Grafton and Silverwater Correctional Centres(NSW); Boronia; Bandyup; Broome; Eastern Goldfields, Greenough and Roebourne Prisons (WA).
The study is in two parts:
- Phase One of the study is a preparatory phase. It incorporates the setting up of the project infrastructure, development of a communication strategy, development of data collection tools and participant information and consent materials, and completion of five separate Human Research Ethics Committee approval processes.
- Phase Two of the study is the operational phase. It incorporates the recruitment of participants, collection and analysis of data, and the dissemination of findings.
This is a mixed methods study which incorporates an audit of prison medical records, appropriate health measures, in-depth interviews, and focus group interviews, analysis of policy and procedural documents, and ongoing stakeholder involvement.
The outcomes of the research will include specific recommendations for models of care for Aboriginal women in prison; increased capacity among Aboriginal female researchers in the field of public health and prison health; and recommendations for professional development and skills training among health and correctional workers in Australian prisons.
Opportunities for early intervention to prevent fragmentation and disintegration of the family; grief; stigma; financial hardship; and the psychological trauma which leads to offending behaviour in children will be identified, with the research providing a platform for policy and practice change.
The study will conclude in June 2014.
- Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan, Director of the Perinatal and Reproductive Epidemiology Research Unit, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of New South Wales, NSW
- Professor Juanita Sherwood, Professor of Australian Indigenous Education, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW
- Ms Jocelyn Jones, Research Fellow, National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), Curtin University, WA
- Professor Eileen Baldry, School of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of New South Wales, NSW
- Professor Tony Butler, The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society, University of New South Wales, NSW
- Associate Professor Marisa Gilles, Rural & Remote Medical Practice, Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (CUCRH), WA
- Professor Michael Levy, Director of Corrections Health, ACT Health, ANU Medical School, Canberra, ACT
SCREAM Associate Investigators
- Dr Devon Indig, Head of Research, Centre for Health Research in Criminal Justice, Justice Health (NSW) and Conjoint Lecturer, UNSW
- Dr Mandy Wilson, Research Fellow, National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), Curtin University, WA
- Ms Jane Walker, Senior Research Officer, Centre for Health Research in Criminal Justice, Justice Health, NSW
Perinatal & Reproductive Epidemiology Research Unit (PRERU)
School of Women's & Children's Health
University of New South Wales
NcNevin Dickson Building
Sydney Children's Hospital
Randwick NSW 2031