Epidemiological approaches have brought important attention to the issues surrounding the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, and the enormous health and socio-economic disparities they face. An implicit discourse often exists within the construction of this “knowledge”, however, that situates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in deficit terms.
Using narrative inquiry, a methodological approach congruent with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and ways of knowing, we aim to challenge this dominant discourse, via an examination of the narratives of eight Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander young men (aged 19-24 years) involved in the criminal justice system. Our analysis is embedded in understandings of the core role of family and kin in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
Experiences of family removal and dislocation were common, as were narratives of striving, often against all odds, to preserve and nurture family connections and kinship ties. We reveal how experiences of ongoing trauma and loss (impacted by the intergenerational effects of colonisation) harmed young men’s ties to kinship systems and family and in doing so deprived them of the very systems needed to sustain a sense of value, purpose and belonging.
A commitment by governments to adequately fund and resource solutions that honour and respect the important role family and kin represents in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is urgently needed, as are sustainable solutions that address the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people that are self-determining and led by their people.
Walker, Shelley Joy; Doyle, Michael; Stoové, Mark Professor; Combo, Troy; and Wilson, Mandy
"Experiences of Kinship and Connection to Family for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young Men with Histories of Incarceration,"
Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet: Vol. 4
, Article 2.
Available at: https://ro.ecu.edu.au/aihjournal/vol4/iss4/2
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