Protecting Australia's Children: Research and Evaluation Register, 1995-2010

Children of prisoners project: Steering Committee's report to the Justice Cabinet Committee

Project summary

  • Support for vulnerable and at-risk families
Publication/completion year 2005
Researcher(s)South Australia Attorney General's Department
Purpose of the project The report presents the major findings of an examination into the needs of children affected by parental incarceration to determine ways in which service provision could be improved.

Research focus

Research/evaluation Research only
Major findingsAs part of the project, two separate surveys were undertaken: parents in prison survey and carers of children who have a parent in prison survey. In total, 106 parents in prison and 28 carers of children affected by parental incarceration were surveyed.

The parents surveyed had a total number of 256 children between them. Half of the children in the study were aged seven years or under. Nearly one-third of the parents surveyed identified that during their childhood, a parent or significant other, was imprisoned. Many reported drug and mental health problems prior to their incarceration.

The significant emotional and financial burden placed upon grandparents was one of the recurring themes to emerge.
Policy implicationsThe report contains an action plan that reflects the findings of the project's consultations, surveys, case studies and available literature on the topic. Key areas identified for focus included:
the need for research and data collection on the parenting responsibilities of prisoners;
greater awareness of the impact of parental incarceration on children by all those involved in the key contact points along the criminal justice system;
more understanding in the community to help reduce the shame and stigma often experienced by children affected by parental incarceration;
more opportunities for children to have contact with their imprisoned parent; and
the continued delivery and expansion of parenting programs to enable parents in prison to develop the necessary parenting skills.


States/Territories studied Not specified


ReportsSouth Australia Attorney General's Department. (2005). Children of prisoners project: Steering Committee's report to the Justice Cabinet Committee. Adelaide, SA: Justice Strategy Division, Attorney General's Department.


Information obtained from Literature search
Added to Register 25 February 2011
Last updated 15 August 2011

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