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Transcending Colonial Legacies: From Criminal Justice to Indigenous Women’s Healing

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Neo-Colonial Injustice and the Mass Imprisonment of Indigenous Women

Abstract

This chapter explores how institutional inter-generational trauma is perpetuated by criminal justice interventions into the lives of Indigenous women. We illustrate how past and present colonial policies and practices have shaped Indigenous women’s lives and resulted in disproportionate incarceration across welfare and penal domains. The chapter then examines the ways in which the criminal justice system characterises trauma to problematise and pathologise Indigenous women. It implores a paradigm shift from prisons to healing places that are nurtured by and for Indigenous women. It illustrates practices of healing, well-being and self-determination models embedded in Indigenous women’s organisations and services.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the feedback and comments from Kimberly Chiswell, Michelle Toy and Bronwyn Penrith.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Atkinson and Ober (1995, p. 201) also refer to this as “dispossession disaster trauma”.

  2. 2.

    Northern Territory National Emergency Act 2007 (Cth); Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act 2007 (Cth). These laws required the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and have contributed to unprecedented numbers of Aboriginal women having their children removed, entering prisons and having their daughters enter detention centres (Royal Commission, 2017b).

  3. 3.

    This has also been reported by NSW Aboriginal Legal Service lawyers interviewed by Thalia Anthony as part of the Australian Research Council Project, ‘Where are the women in Indigenous sentencing?’ (March, 2019).

  4. 4.

    Deidentified Aboriginal women in yarning circle in prison, March 2019.

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Anthony, T., Sentance, G., Bartels, L. (2020). Transcending Colonial Legacies: From Criminal Justice to Indigenous Women’s Healing. In: George, L., Norris, A.N., Deckert, A., Tauri, J. (eds) Neo-Colonial Injustice and the Mass Imprisonment of Indigenous Women. Palgrave Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Indigeneity and Criminal Justice. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44567-6_6

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