By Susan Dennison, Holly Smallbone, Kate Freiberg & Anna Stewart

Produced for Queensland Government, April 2013


This project contains two studies that were conducted as part of the Indigenous Criminal Justice Research Agenda (ACJRA) for Queensland Government. The aim of the first study (Study 1) was to examine Indigenous men’s identities as fathers in prison, the barriers associated with maintaining contact with their children and engaging in aspects of fathering that are important to the individual and within their culture. A number of longitudinal studies internationally have demonstrated that having a father in prison is causally related to an increase in antisocial behaviour and poor developmental outcomes in children. However, the precise mechanisms associated with the transmission of risk due to parental imprisonment have not been adequately studied.

The aim of the second study (Study 2) was to examine the experiences and challenges for women who live in a remote Aboriginal community and are caring for children with a father in prison. Caregivers often experience emotional and financial hardship and stigma in caring for children with a father in prison, yet they play an important role in maintaining contact between the child and their father. Extended family and community support has been found to be a significant factor in the wellbeing of caregivers. Study 2 is a pilot study comprising interviews with six Indigenous women, caring for children with a father in prison, who reside in a remote Indigenous community in North Queensland.