Positive stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' life post-prison release, and design of health-based intervention

Project summary

Phase one of this qualitative research project involved completion of 12 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with Aboriginal people in urban Queensland locations, most of whom had been incarcerated on multiple occasions, had lived in regional and remote areas, and had been out of prison for at least two years.

The purpose of this qualitative research project is two-fold:

  1. To enhance the appropriateness of a health-based intervention for Indigenous people post-prison release, to be evaluated by a longitudinal randomized-controlled trial ‘Passports to Advantage’ being conducted by UQ’s School of Population Health, and funded by the NHMRC.
  2. Constituting part of a PhD research project to develop an understanding of the lived-experience of community (re)integration for Aboriginal people post-prison release, and the loci of strengths drawn upon since release.

Summary of projected outcomes

Outcomes of this qualitative research project include:

  • Use of information with permission from participants to confidentially guide the development of a booklet of positive stories for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Inclusion of this new booklet as part of a package to be evaluated – through the Passports to Advantage study – for its effectiveness in facilitating access to health and support services by those being released from selected Queensland correctional centres
  • Greater understanding of the experience of Aboriginal people post-prison release in Queensland, and how Aboriginal families and communities provide formal and informal support.

Phase two of the qualitative research project will see more interviews conducted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have experienced incarceration, as well as Elders and other community members who provide support post-release. Research of this nature was considered a priority at the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health’s 2007 Roundtable on Prisoner Health and by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

This research is important to illuminate current policy and service delivery gaps, as well as opportunities for reducing recidivism and over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australian correctional centres, by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and mainstream agencies.

Summary of project implementation

The research design emerged through discussions with Aboriginal community members and health workers and essentially involved five stages:

  • Development of narrative interview questions.
  • Piloting the narrative interview process.
  • Collecting data.
  • Data coding and analysis.
  • Development of a stories booklet based on interview data.


Related resources

Davis, S. & Brands, J. 2008, Research Priorities in Aboriginal Prisoner Health: Recommendations and Outcomes from the CRCAH Aboriginal Prisoner Health Industry Roundtable, CRCAH, Darwin.

Kinner, S. 2006, The Post-release Experience of Prisoners in Queensland, Trends and Issues No. 325, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.

Created: 03 May 2012 - Updated: 20 June 2013