Better support needed for criminalised women

Abolition Now

Abolition Now

The challenges currently facing the abolition movement and those organisations who support criminalised women will be the focus of a public meeting next week.

Monash University’s School of Political and Social Inquiry in conjunction with Flat Out and the Centre for the Human Rights of Imprisoned People will hostAbolition Now on Wednesday 7 August.

Dr Bree Carlton from the Department of Criminology said for a state highly regarded for its low imprisonment rates and range of rehabilitative initiatives, numbers of women in Victorian prisons are still increasing.

“With recent shifts towards de-investment in education and health, along with the re-investment into prisons and the embracing of legislative changes in sentencing and parole, there is the likelihood that numbers will continue to increase,” Dr Carlton said.

“Many of the women sent to prison experience a range of inequalities and injustices and could be more appropriately and constructively supported within the community rather than in prison. In many ways prison is costly to the community and it really only compounds and reproduces the conditions that lead to women's criminalisation and serial incarceration.

“Over the past decade Victoria has experienced significant expansion in prison beds and numbers. These upward trends, disproportionately experienced among women of Indigenous and Vietnamese decent, have been unprecedented and they are creating profound challenges for communities, advocates, activists and lawyers committed to effecting transformative structural and social change.”

Keynote speaker Dr Kim Pate, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies will discuss her work as an advocate, abolitionist and teacher in Canada and address the key challenges facing Canadian abolitionists on the ground.

An interactive panel featuring Dr Pate, Debbie Kilroy, CEO of Sisters Inside and Amanda George, Lawyer and long-time anti-prison activist, will speak candidly about the challenges they have experienced in their work.

“These speakers combined have more than a lifetime of experience in anti-prison work and working extensively with, advocating on behalf of and walking along side marginalised, criminalised, victimised and institutionalised women and girls,” Dr Carlton said.

“The aim of this panel is to create a space for discussing how these experiences might inform those of us engaged in systemic advocacy and social activism projects and to navigate contemporary barriers and challenges to transformative change.”

The event will also include the launch of Women Exiting PrisonCritical Essays on Gender, Post-release Support and Survival, edited by Monash University’s Dr Bree Carlton and Dr Marie Segrave


  • Tickets cost $10 per person or $2 for students and concession holders.
  • To book tickets email
  • All proceeds from the night will go to Flat Out and CHRIP’s ongoing systemic advocacy and support for criminalised women.

Event details for “Abolition Now!”

  • Wednesday 7 August
  • New Council Chambers, Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Carlton.
  • Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6pm start.