Life after prison support for African Australians through the practice of Ubuntu

The population of African Australians in Victorian prisons has been increasing over the past few years. Yet, there is little understanding or practice knowledge about the sociocultural barriers they face, both in prison and in the community following their release. In this presentation, we will draw on findings of a research project on the post-release support needs of African Australians, aged 16 years and over, released from custody in Victoria. The focus will be on the role of family and community, and how the African concept of Ubuntu – the principle of interdependence, connectedness and common humanity, which is captured in the saying ‘I am because we are’ – may be practised to provide support to life after prison for African Australians. We will also consider what we might learn, more broadly, from thinking about how we can practice cultural competency when supporting prisoners who are faced with challenges of reconnecting with community following their release from custody.

Gerald Onsando

The University of Melbourne
Research Fellow

Dr Gerald Onsando is an active member of the African community in Victoria and an experienced researcher and program evaluator. He has significant experience in engaging with African communities in sociocultural, leadership, research, and evaluation contexts. Dr Onsando has published widely and presented research findings about African communities’ resettlement outcomes in Australia, including undertaking a research consultancy about ‘Experiences and perspectives of African prisoners in Victoria’.

Greg Armstrong

The University of Melbourne
NHMRC Early Career Fellow

Dr Greg Armstrong is an experienced mental health and drug & alcohol researcher based at the Nossal Institute for Global Health, currently funded by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship. Dr Armstrong has undertaken extensive community-based research in Asia and for several years in sub-Saharan Africa as an evaluation consultant for the Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme funded by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He is supporting several research projects looking at migrant, refugee and Indigenous health in Australia and his drug misuse research has given him frequent exposure to populations involved with a history of incarceration.

Mamadou Diamanka

Australian and African Foundation for Retention and Opportunity (AAFRO)
Founder of AAFRO

Mr Mamadou Diamanka is a Westpac Social Change Fellowship recipient and an active community leader. Mr Diamanka engages with governments, non-governmental organisations, and a diversity of local and international stakeholders to run a range of innovative programs for young people designed to assist them in acquiring life-skills that help them in the transition to work or further education. One of AAFRO’s key objective is to combat socioeconomic disadvantage and unemployment in order to assist African Australian families to fully participate in Australian society.