Black lives matter: The violence of Indigenous incarceration

Mrs Kirstie Broadfield1

1James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Almost 30 years on from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, 28 percent of the Australian prison population is Indigenous and there have been over 340 Indigenous deaths in custody; Indigenous incarceration has reached breaking point.  This is a crisis that demands far greater attention, investigation, and action than it is currently receiving.  This project, therefore, has national significance because it thinks outside the box on Indigenous incarceration rather than revalorising imprisonment as a frontline criminal justice strategy.  This research will highlight the violence of Indigenous incarceration embedded within the Australian criminal justice system by unveiling the extent to which relations of power contribute to forms of violence towards Indigenous Australian people in the criminal justice system. To achieve this a mixed-method approach has been adopted within an emancipatory research paradigm. Official statistics are being analysed to identify any unusual observations that may indicate a pattern or trend that can be correlated, or corroborated through the qualitative data.   Interviews with Indigenous ex-offenders are being used to evaluate the previously silenced voice of Indigenous people by gaining their perceptions about their experiences in the Australian criminal justice system. Ultimately, this project will contribute valuable knowledge to an area that is under-investigated, under-theorised, and most importantly, under-acknowledged.


I found my passion in Indigenous Australian Studies at JCU in 2014 and was awarded an Academic Medal for my Bachelor coursework.  I went on to study honours in Anthropology to compliment my undergraduate degree.  I was awarded the 2017 University Medal for my honours thesis entitled ‘Ethnodevelopment: Indigenous Development In Indigenous Hands’.

I am an active research assistant with projects including a systematic review of outcomes of Indigenous youth substance abuse demand control programs, which was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.  I have also researched the effectiveness of cultural programs for Indigenous sex offenders, and a review of edutourism in Cambodia.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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