Conference 2011

10th, 11th & 12th August 2011
Citigate Central,
169-179 Thomas St
Sydney NSW 2000

Sisters Inside's 6th International Conference on the criminalisation of women and imprisonment will be held at the Citigate Central Hotel, Sydney on the 10th, 11th & 12th August 2011. The conference focuses on :

Service Provision

Alternatives to Prisons

The 'Is Prison Obsolete" Conference will initiate and support the development of innovative and creative responses to issues affecting women in prison throughout the world. It will provide an opportunity for individuals, organisations and governments from across the globe to come together and share information. The conference will focus on professional development opportunities for stakeholders in this specific marginalised sector.

Confirmed Keynotes

Angela Davis
Author & Activist

A graduate student of political philosopher Herbert Marcuse at Brandeis University, Davis became a member of the Communist Party and a controversial activist. In 1971, she was charged with the Soledad Brothers murders in Marin County. The trial sparked an international campaign in support of her innocence and she was acquitted. A distinguished teacher and writer, author of recently released book "Are Prisons Obsolete"

Kim Pate
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

Kim is the executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS). The CAEFS is a federation of autonomous societies which works with, and on behalf of, women involved with the justice system, particularly women in conflict with the law.

Dr. Erica R. Meiners

Author & Activist
Based in Chicago, I am in involved with a number of initiatives working for justice.
With others, I am a starter, and still a teacher and a coordinator, of an alternative high school for men and women who have been incarcerated, St. Leonard's Adult High School. In 2009, I co-authored the first LGBTQ audit of teacher education programs in the U.S. Visibility Matters. I collaborated to develop Women and Prison: A Site of Resistance and TAME: Teachers Against Militarized Education.

I am the author of a number of books: Right to be hostile: Schools, prisons and the making of public enemies (Routledge 2007), Public acts: Disruptive readings on making curriculum public with Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco (Routledge 2004), and my new book with Therese Quinn, is Flaunt It! Queers organizing for public education and justice. I also write articles in a range of publications including AREA Chicago, ReThinking Schools, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Meridians, and Upping the Anti. Check out my article in the latest issue of Radical Teacher. I blog about resistances, Canadiana and pop cultures for MS Magazine.

Work with allies in Chicago about the lives and organizing of undocumented youth is out, including a piece in Social Justice Journal, and Academe. I will be a sister at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute in Montreal, continuing work on fear, childhood and protection. I am also facilitating/participating in a Communiversity through Project NIA and the Chicago Freedom School.
My day job is a Professor of Education and Women's Studies at Northeastern Illinois University - a public, urban institution in Chicago where I am also a union member of UPI. I am into making jam, trying to keep my bees alive, all kinds of music, and long distance running.

Gina Dent
University of California

Gina is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at UC Santa Cruz, having previously taught at Princeton, Columbia, and UC Berkeley. She has published on African American literature and art, and also works on African American women and the prison-industrial complex.

Cassandra Shaylor
Justice Now

Shaylor is an attorney and activist based in Oakland, CA. She is the co-founder of Justice Now, an abolitionist organization and training center focused on people in US women's prisons. Her academic work focuses on issues of women in prison, abolition, and the intersections of race, sexuality and gender in the prison-industrial complex. Prior to co-founding Justice Now, she was a staff attorney at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. Over the years she has been active with numerous anti-prison organizations, including co-founding Critical Resistance and organizing with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. She received her BA from Smith College, a JD from Washington College of Law and a PhD from the Department of History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz.

Antoinette Braybrook
Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria

Antoinette in the CEO of the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service in Victoria. Antoinette is an Aborginal woman who was born in Victoria on Wurundjeri country. Antoinette's grandfather and mothers line is through the Kuku Yalangi, North Queensland. Antoinette graduated Bachelor of Laws at Deakin Unviersity in 2000 and was admitted as a Legal Practitioner in Victoria in 2004. Antoinette has and continues to work with Aboriginal women in prison to identify and secure funding to establish an organisation to advocate for the rights of women in the criminal justice system in Victoria.

Debbie Kilroy
Sisters Inside Inc.

Debbie Kilroy OAM, BSocWk, former Prisoner, Psychotherapist, practicing lawyer, Australian Human Rights Medal, and CEO of Sisters Inside, a community organisation that advocates for the human rights of women in the Criminal Justice System. Debbie continues to be a strong activist, locally nationally and internationally, on issues relating to prison abolition. Debbie is the first former prisoner in Australia to be admitted to practise law.

Gina Castelain
Wik Projects Ltd
Born in Aurukun and educated there, in Cairns and Melbourne, Gina Castelain is a 27 year old Wik and Wik Waya woman whose traditional country includes the Aurukun wetlands (which are the subject of the Archer Basin Wild River Declaration) and the rich bauxite deposits north of Aurukun. Her mother, Norma Chevathun, was a prominent indigenous leader in the 1980s and 90s and one of the original Wik native title claimants.

Gina's parents instilled in her the importance of both a strong sense of her identity as an Aboriginal person and the need to succeed in mainstream society. As a result, Gina moves easily between two very different worlds. Gina is managing director of Wik Projects Ltd, an organisation set up by Wik and Wik Waya traditional owners to articulate their aspirations, represent their interests and pursue sustainable economic development opportunities on their country - opportunities which provide better socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal people and reflect cultural and environmental values important to traditional owners.

Wik Projects currently supports two local indigenous businesses that operate for the benefit of the communities of the western Cape, Aurukun Wetland Charters (an eco-tourism businesses operating on the Aurukun wetlands) and Aurukun Earthmoving (which provides contract earthmoving mainly to Rio Tinto's bauxite mine and to Queensland's Main Roads department). Wik Projects is also developing a proposal to harvest timber from the bauxite mining lease areas north of Aurukun - reducing carbon emissions by using a resource which would otherwise be bulldozed and burnt, and enabling traditional owners to be actively engaged in the rehabilitation of their country after mining is finished.

Gina believes that everyone should have the opportunity to realise their aspirations and that this principle should apply as much to Aboriginal people as anyone else. For decades, the lives of Aboriginal people in Aurukun were controlled first by missionaries and then by government. For Gina, building an economic base will only happen if Aboriginal people and their organisations are empowered and supported, at the local level, to build it.

Dr Eileen Baldry
University of NSW

Dr Eileen Baldry, the winner of the 2009 Justice Medal, has a reputation as an outstanding and extraordinarily engaged academic and activist. Says one colleague: "It doesn't matter where you go or what you do in the field of criminal justice, she is either there or has been there." Currently an Associate Professor at the University of NSW, Dr Baldry has made a major contribution over decades to improving access to justice for prisoners and people with mental disability or cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system. Her work is recognised where it matters, by the government agencies making policy affecting these groups, and by the various organisations providing services to those in need.

Bree Carlton
Monash University

Bree Carlton has undertaken extensive research and published widely in the area of history and prison studies nationally & internationally. To date Dr Carlton has published articles in journals such as Current Issues in Criminal Justice, Social Justice and the Prison Service Journal. In 2005 Dr Carlton was a recipient of the Australian Academy of Humanities Travelling Fellowship for her research on women and political imprisonment in Northern Ireland. Her current research is focused on prisoner survival after release in Victoria. Dr Carlton's book, Imprisoning Resistance: Life and Death in an Australian Supermax, was published by the Sydney Institute of Criminology Series in 2007 and nominated in the True Crime category of the 8th Davitt Awards in 2008.

Dixie Link-Gordan
Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Corporation Women's Centre

Dixie Link-Gordon is a descendant of the Gurang Gurang people of south east Queensland, Australia. Born in Brisbane, Dixie moved to Sydney over 30 years ago. Dixie joined Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Corporation, Women's Centre in 1991 as a founding member, supporter and employee. She has held the position of CEO since 2005. From the start of her career, Dixie has been focused on supporting and advocating for change for women living in domestic and family violence lifestyles. Throughout her 23 year career, Dixie has been and is committed to raising awareness through community based, accessible education programs. Sharing these experiences has laid the foundations for the 'Blackout Violence' program and Dixie's ongoing commitment and advocacy against domestic and family violence. Dixie is one of a small handful of Aboriginal women who pioneered with non-Indigenous sisters pursuing domestic violence court assistance programs in NSW. Never turning away from the hard issues, the challenges that Dixie faces are quickly turned into opportunities for positive change, enabling women and families to pursue safe lives. Throughout her career, Dixie has been widely recognised by Government, community groups and various learning institutions for her advocacy and education against violence. Dixie has six children and is the proud grandmother of 14 grandchildren.

Paula Abood
Cultural development worker, writer and educator

Paula Abood is a community cultural development worker, writer and educator. She has worked with immigrant and refugee communities on storytelling projects including 'Huriyya and her Sisters', 'The Afghan Women's Dobaiti Project' and 'The Book of African Australian Stories'. She received a Western Sydney Artists' Fellowship in 2007 for the blogging project 'Race and the City'.

Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor
Masters in Aboriginal Studies (Social and Emotional Wellbeing)

Rhonda is based in Redfern Sydney the Heartland of the Black Australian Political Movement, the Daughter of Dr Charles 'Chicka' Dixon Aboriginal Social Justice and Human Rights Activist. Rhonda is currently working towards a PhD in Indigenous Leadership and the Decolonisation of Indigenous Peoples, who have historically faced the racist legislations imposed on them by the Australian Government, that controlled every aspect of their daily lives. Rhonda is passionate about addressing the high incarnation rates of Indigenous Women in the Jail systems, by providing an alternative option to incarceration, through the provision of Culturally appropriate Programs focussed on Indigenous Education and Training ,through Women's Circles, Counselling and therapeutic programs with a specific focus on addressing the problems of Drug and Alcohol, Mental Health, Domestic Violence, Communication Skills, history of Colonisation, loss of Cultural and Identity and Social exclusion etc Rhonda has many years experience as an Indigenous Mediator with the Attorney Generals Department and has worked as an Indigenous Consultant with Mental Health Association to better inform the mainstream Mental Health System of the needs of Indigenous Communities