The Aboriginal Mothers in Prison project: an example of how consultation can inform research practice
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Abstract: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander1 women comprise the fastest growing subgroup among the prisoner population and are severely over-represented in Australian prisons. Despite the striking over-representation, research into their health and other needs has, to date, been limited. This paper describes the consultation process undertaken in Western Australia for the Social and Cultural Resilience and Emotional Wellbeing of Aboriginal Mothers in Prison project (hereafter, the Aboriginal Mothers in Prison project). The project aims to better understand the health, treatment and other needs of Aboriginal mothers in prison in Western Australia and New South Wales, and was conducted over two phases, the consultation phase and the applied research phase. This paper focuses on the results of the first phase of the research. It outlines the history of the development of ethics in this field and reviews the formal documents available to guide researchers working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, tenets of which were infused throughout the research process. The paper then discusses how key stakeholders were identified in the area and provides an overview of the central findings from the consultation phase. In addition, the paper illustrates how being true to the consultation process and actively incorporating the feedback of diverse (and sometimes competing) stakeholders ensures the project acknowledges, respects and actions (where possible) the needs and concerns of the various agencies and individuals with investment in the issue.
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