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Delivering an innovative approach to cultural strengthening while incarcerated

Elizabeth Morgan House is pleased to announce our appointment to develop and lead the Aboriginal Healing Unit (AHU) in the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC).

This first of its kind in an Australian prison, draws on Aboriginal knowledge to provide holistic support across all aspects of a woman’s life.

The AHU is designed to provide therapeutic care and support for Aboriginal women and gender diverse Aboriginal individuals in the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. The AHU will operate as a therapeutic community, fostering connections to community and culture while offering the necessary tools and assistance to develop essential life skills crucial for maintaining positive social connections after release from prison.

Research shows that when Aboriginality is nurtured as a strength, this leads to better outcomes for Aboriginal women.

The AHU will consist of a dedicated healing unit programs space along with cottage-style accommodation, capable of accommodating up to 12 individuals. This integrated approach ensures that participants have access to both therapeutic programs.

Over the past decade there has been a 137.8% increase in Aboriginal women in custody, nearly half of those (43%) are unsentenced, sitting in remand.  Many experience complex trauma – contact with the child protection system, the youth justice system, family violence and lack of access to safe and affordable housing. This program will add to Elizabeth Morgan House’s existing services in both Dame Phyllis Frost and Tarrengower women’s prisons where we work one on one with women to prepare for release. It demonstrates our approach to holistic self-determined services work. We know that the women in Dame Phyllis Frost were instrumental in our appointment as their preferred organisation.

Elizabeth Morgan House will be co-designing the program with participants, but elements will include:

  • Group-based cultural programs and activities

  • Individual therapeutic support

  • Financial education and counselling

  • Cultural mentoring by Elders and Respected Persons

  • Integration with existing case management processes

  • Transition planning and referrals for post-release support

  • A welcoming and safe space for Aboriginal women and gender diverse individuals

The program will not only provide a safe space for our women to access the support they need while incarcerated, but it also aims to reduce recidivism and positively impact the life outcomes of the women, their families and the community.

Positions are in the AHU are currently being advertised on SEEK and Ethical jobs.

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