Dr Gerald ONSANDO1, Mr Mamadou DIAMANKA2
1Research Fellow; School of Social and Political Sciences; The University of Melbourne
2Founder and Managing Director; Australian African Foundation for Retention and Opportunity (AAFRO)
The number of African-born prisoners in the state of Victoria is gradually increasing. The challenges and support needs of African Australians going into and coming out of Victorian prisons is largely undocumented. We will present on a new research project, Reintegration and resettlement: Post-release family and community support for African Australian released prisoners in Victoria. This is a community-based research project focused on the particular cultural needs of African Australians leaving custody, through which we will seek to better understand and suggest ways of addressing the challenges.
The focus of this project will be on the role of family and community, and how the African concept of ubuntu – the principle of interdependence and connectedness, captured in the saying ‘I am because we are’ – may provide both a bridge and a barrier to life after prison for African Australians. We will also consider what we might learn, more broadly, from thinking about how we can work with cultural identity when supporting all prisoners struggling to connect with community following their release from custody.