‘Just friends and family’: The importance of informal support for imprisoned primary carer fathers, carers and children pre and post release in Victoria, Australia.

Previous research has shown a distinct lack of support for imprisoned primary carer fathers, their children, and carers pre and post-release in Victoria, Australia. However, there remains a gap in knowledge relating to what assists primary carer fathers, carers, and children during this phase. This paper draws on data from an Australian Research Council funded study conducted in Victoria and New South Wales between 2012 to 2015 that examined care planning responses to children whose primary carers were arrested and imprisoned, with a specific focus on what assists incarcerated primary carer fathers, carers, and their children pre and post-release. To do so, qualitative data from interviews with imprisoned primary carer fathers (n = 39 at Interview 1 and n = 19 at Interview 2 (six months later)), their children (n = 3 at Interview 1 and 2), and those caring for their children (n = 5 at Interview 1 and 2) are examined. Findings indicate that for primary carer fathers, carers, and children, while some formal support was accessed, such as SHINE for Kids and Mirabel Foundation, most support was informal and tended to come from educational institutions, family, and friends. By clearly highlighting the reliance on informal supports and non-governmental organisations this paper draws attention to the importance of providing holistic services for families during this process.

Tess Bartlett

Melbourne University
Research Officer

Dr Tess Bartlett is a research officer and teaching associate in the School of Social and Political Sciences at Melbourne University. She has worked for nearly ten years as a teaching associate in criminology and on a number of research projects exploring families impacted by the criminal justice system. Her PhD examined the experiences of primary carer fathers at the point of arrest and imprisonment in Victoria, Australia. Tess is particularly interested in critical masculinities, identity and fathering and how these are experienced in spaces of confinement.