UOW researcher awarded $1.2m Discovery Indigenous Scheme grant

UOW researcher awarded $1.2m Discovery Indigenous Scheme grant

Grant to investigate the safety and quality of life of young Indigenous people who come into contact with the carceral system

University of Wollongong (UOW) researcher Dr Marlene Longbottom has been awarded a $1.2m grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC) as part of the Discovery Indigenous Scheme, announced Wednesday 27 October 2021. 

The grant will investigate how Indigenous community-controlled organisations in the health, justice and child protection sectors develop and implement culturally and community grounded programs, that can guide and improve the safety and wellbeing of young Indigenous people between the ages of 10-24.

Furthermore, the project seeks to better understand the unique perspectives, strengths and limitations of organisations who provide critical support to young Indigenous people in contact with the carceral system. 

“We are focusing on this age group as those life transitions between childhood, adolescence and young adulthood are the population group at highest risk of being incarcerated. We are also interested to examine how Indigenous community organisations support and provide vital contributions to building safer, more supportive communities” Dr Longbottom said. 

Dr Longbottom will lead the project from the Ngarruwan Ngadju First Peoples Health & Wellbeing Research Centre, in collaboration with UOW’s Professor Kathleen Clapham and researchers from the University of Queensland, the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, Central Queensland University and UNSW Sydney. 

“We already understand the punitive factors associated with the carceral state. To de-carcerate the system, we need to understand current processes, how young Indigenous people experience the system, as well as the provision of support by Indigenous community organisations,” Dr Longbottom said. 

“The carceral system in our view reflects that of the health, education, justice and child protection sectors. Pivotal to closing is the gap is the role of Indigenous community-controlled organisations who develop and implement culturally and community grounded programs. The project will also articulate the protective and punitive influences that determine the key drivers and social factors of young Indigenous people who come into contact with the carceral system.”  

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer L. Martin AC said the funding will help address a critical issue that disproportionately affects Indigenous people. 

“The grant will help the research team work closely with the community and partner organisations to analyse and evaluate and to unpack young Indigenous people’s experiences with the carceral system,” Professor Martin said. 

The research will be carried out over five years with the findings helping to assist in addressing the current overrepresentation in these carceral systems. It will provide a strength-based, culturally and trauma-informed and responsive model that can be locally contextualised in communities across Australia and further internationally. 

The grant also includes a Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award to Dr Longbottom, a prestigious and highly competitive award and one of only three awarded across the country.