Translating research to practice through co-creation: Developing transformational support for incarcerated mothers and their children

Professor Susan Dennison1, Professor Tara McGee1, Dr Corrie Williams1, Professor Janet Ransley1

1Griffith Criminology Institute, Mt Gravatt, Australia

Transforming Corrections to Transform Lives (TCTL) is an innovative collaboration of researchers, mothers with lived experience of incarceration, correctional workers, stakeholders across the government and non-government sectors, and philanthropy, working to understand and create the conditions necessary for incarcerated mothers and their children to thrive. We aim to break cycles of disadvantage and offending though a transformative system of practice that provide holistic wrap-around support, continuity of care, and joined-up solutions across the service sector. This presentation will provide an overview of the co-creation principles and methodology employed in this project, which we argue are necessary for optimising both individual and whole-of-system change. Benefits of our approach include developing a deeper understanding of the changing and intersecting needs of potential end users, identifying system barriers and areas for skill development across the sector, and breaking down silos across relevant agencies. Challenges include the time required to engage in meaningful ways in the co-creation process, recognizing the different ‘experts’ in the process and creating opportunities for their involvement, and working across complex, interconnected systems. Relatedly, our approach acknowledges the power imbalances experienced by mothers in the correctional systems, and we discuss ways that researchers adopted the role of knowledge brokers between the mothers in custody and those working in the systems in which they are embedded. We conclude with key lessons and insights from our collaborative approach.


Susan is a Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Griffith Criminology Institute. She is Director of Transforming Corrections to Transform Lives, an innovative collaboration working to create a transformative system of practice that addresses system gaps, improves pathways and programs, and provides proportionate end-to-end care for imprisoned mothers and their children during a sentence and after release. Her research focuses on investigating how childhood adversity, maltreatment and parental incarceration, affects young people’s development and long-term outcomes. Susan is working to transform policies and systems to reduce the intergenerational transmission of offending and disadvantage.


Dec 09 2021