'Children of Prisoners' ACT research report
At the official launch of SHINE's presence in the ACT on 31 October was the release of a research paper from the Institute of Child Protection Studies of the Australian Catholic University, titled 'Children of Prisoners: Exploring the needs of children and young people who have a parent incarcerated in the Australian Capital Territory'. Officiating the release of the paper was Alasdair Roy, ACT Children and Young People Commissioner.
Thanks to the good work of the report's authors – Vicky Saunders and Professor Morag McArthur – and to the research team – Vicky Saunders, Hannah Henry, Melanie Greenhalgh and Erin Barry – this paper will inform the project 'Building resilience in a uniquely vulnerable group: children of prisoners'.
From the executive summary of the report
Until recently, the parenting status of Australian prisoners has been poorly considered. However, Australian and international criminological policy and research is now focusing on the role that families play in the well-being, re-offending and rehabilitation of prisoners.
This growing body of research has considered family connectedness from a variety of perspectives and there is emerging evidence of its impact on a range of social, health, mental wellbeing and criminological outcomes for prisoners (Travis, McBride, et al 2003; Stanley, & Byrne, 2000; Robertson, 2007).
There is also a growing interest in the reciprocal impacts of imprisonment on families, and particularly on children. This has contributed to the recognition that prisoners need to be seen in the context of their family and parenting identities if a range of preventative, restorative and rehabilitative imperatives are to be fully achieved for them and for their children.
This research study commissioned by SHINE for Kids and funded by the ACT Health Directorate aims to fill an important gap in knowledge about how prisoners are constructed as parents, and the impacts of incarceration upon prisoners’ families in contemporary Australian society, by exploring and highlighting children’s voices. The research centres on hearing and understanding the experiences of children who have or have had an incarcerated parent.