The International Journal of Restorative Justice

Article

The case for using culturally relevant values in restorative justice programming for Australian Aboriginal prisoners

Keywords Australia, Aboriginal, prison, values, restorative justice
Authors Jane Anderson
Author's information

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is Adjunct Research Fellow at School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia, Australia. Corresponding author: Jane Anderson at jane.a@westnet.com.au. Acknowledgements: I extend my appreciation to the Noongar Elders and prisoners of the South West of Western Australia who co-designed the AIPRJP. My thanks go to the prison superintendent and staff for supporting the initiative. I am grateful to the peer reviewers for their constructive criticism which has led to substantial improvements to this article.
  • Abstract

      Western Australia is experiencing high rates of recidivism among Aboriginal offenders. This challenge can be partly addressed by delivering culturally relevant programming. Its dearth, however, suggests two questions: what is culturally fit in the context of the prison, and how might such programming be constructed? This article responds to these questions by focusing on one element of culture, ‘values’, that is influential ideas that determine desirable courses of action in a culture. Firstly, a review of the literature and comparative analysis is given to the respective key values of Aboriginal culture and European and Anglo-Australian cultures. It also highlights the importance of repairing Aboriginal values with implications for providing culturally relevant prison programming. Secondly, a report is given on how an in-prison Aboriginal restorative justice programme (AIPRJP) was co-designed by Noongar Elders and prisoners and me, an Anglo-Australian restorativist. Using an ethnographic approach, the project identified a set of Aboriginal values for addressing the harms resulting from historical manifestations of wrongdoing by settler colonialism and contemporary crimes of Aboriginal offenders. Brief commentary is then given to the delivery of the AIPRJP, followed by a summary of findings and recommendations for using culturally relevant programming.

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