The Impact of Aboriginality on the Experience of Leaving Prison: Case Studies in WA and the NT

Hilde Tubex


Hilde Tubex is Associate Professor at the Law School of the University of Western Australia. Her areas of expertise are comparative criminology and penal policy, Indigenous peoples and the criminal justice system. She has been involved in several research projects with a focus on Indigenous overrepresentation, including a Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council investigating penal cultures in Australian jurisdictions, and ARC Linkage Project on risk assessment of Aboriginal Sex Offenders in Australia, and a project funded by the Criminology Research Council on building effective throughcare strategies for Indigenous offenders. She conducted consultancy work on risk assessment tools for Indigenous offenders and youth throughcare services and is currently working on a project related to Indigenous women in the prison.

This presentation reflects on the findings of an 18 month research project to develop effective throughcare strategies for Indigenous offenders. It is based on a community-led approach, starting from the perspectives of male and female offenders after return to their communities, community Elders and Respected Peoples and local service providers. The research sites are the Kimberley region in Western Australia (Broome, the Dampier Peninsula, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing) and the Northern Territory (Darwin, Alice Springs and Melville on the Tiwi Islands). The analysis of the interviews demonstrates that a thorough exit plan from the prison to the community is essential. However, for throughcare strategies to be effective, the starting point for any intervention needs to be based on the acknowledgment that interactions of Indigenous peoples with the criminal justice system in general, and with prison in particular, are different. This is related to the ongoing effects of colonisation and multiple forms of deprivation, but also to the importance and uniqueness of Aboriginal culture and lifestyle. The main areas that need to be addressed during imprisonment and on release are discussed, which form the basis of the recommendations. Essential in developing effective throughcare strategies is the involvement of Indigenous Peoples and the broader community, to break the cycle of offending and re-offending and help address the over-representation of Indigenous Peoples in the prison.