Collaborating for change: supporting the children of incarcerated mothers

Dr Corrie Williams1, Professor Tara McGee1, Professor  Susan Dennison1

1Griffith Criminology Institute, Mt Gravatt, Australia

Researchers who use co-creation methods share a common goal: to involve the people who are the targets of their innovation in a way that results in tangible outcomes for those people. Despite the popularity of co-creation methods with vulnerable populations, there is limited research that explicitly discusses how to include these populations in co-creation in a meaningful way. We argue that prioritising the gaining of knowledge about experiences of individuals, directly from them, is of central importance in co-creation research and program design. This is especially important when doing research with mothers in prison and their children, where there are complex power dynamics that often limit the ability of these mothers to engage in research that impacts on the systems in which they are embedded. In this presentation, engagement with mothers in prison, built the capacity of the Transforming Lives to Transform Corrections (TCTL) research team to collaborate for effective co-creation. First, we show how the knowledge gained from the mothers inspired and informed a scenario-based workshop with stakeholders whose services support—or interact with—children and adolescents who have experienced maternal imprisonment. Second, we show how these scenarios allowed researchers to become knowledge brokers for the mothers in prison and their children. Through this knowledge, researchers were more effective in conveying to service providers the challenges experienced by imprisoned mothers and their children and the need for both simple and complex practice and system-level changes.


Corrie is a Research Fellow with the Transforming Corrections to Transform Lives project at Griffith University, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Corrie also has extensive experience as a practitioner and analyst with the Department of Youth Justice in Queensland. Her research interests include the development and promotion of prosocial behaviour, the translation of evidence to strength-based practice, and the role of social support in preventing antisocial behaviour.


Dec 09 2021