Conference 2014

8th, 9th & 10th October 2014
Royal on the Park
Cnr Alice & Albert Street
Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia


Forget reform. It is time to talk about abolishing prisons in society. So what's the alternative? This puzzling question often interrupts further discussion of the prospects for abolition. Why is it so difficult to imagine alternatives to the current system of imprisonment? What about building the kind of society that doesn't need prisons with the redistribution of power and income, and a decent sense of community that can support every member. This conference will explore and encourage discussion about abolition and alternatives to prison over three days. We look forward to your participation.

Sisters Inside's 7th International Conference on the criminalisation of women and imprisonment will be held at Royal on the Park, Brisbane on the 8th, 9th & 10th October 2014. 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.

Women who have been in prison are encouraged to attend the daily conference. This event is FREE for any woman who has been in prison. Registration is crucial though so please complete the Printable Registration Form and return to Sisters Inside by post, fax or email.



Deborah Coles

Deborah is a committed activist working on social justice issues. As Co-Director of a unique charity that provides expertise on contentious deaths and their investigation with a particular focus on custodial death. Deborah leads the policy, legal and strategic work for social change and has considerable expertise in working to prevent the deaths and ill treatment of people in all forms of detention, and in campaigning for more effective learning and state and corporate accountability. She is regularly consulted by government, parliamentarians, regulation, inspection and investigation bodies, coroners, human rights lawyers, NGO's and international human rights groups. She given written and oral evidence to numerous parliamentary inquiries and has been appointed as an expert on a variety of committees and reference groups including the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody. She has expertise in specialist areas including coronial reform, policing, human rights compliant investigations, traumatic bereavement, family liaison, juvenile and youth justice, race and gender and criminal justice.

Deborah's campaigning work around the deaths of women in prison was instrumental in persuading the government to set up the review of women with vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system 'The Corston report' and she was an active member of its reference group. She is co-author of 'Dying On the Inside: Examining Women's Deaths in Prison' an in-depth analysis of women's deaths and their broader social and political context. It argues for the abolition of prison for women and for investment in community based projects.

She has delivered conference papers nationally and internationally and is the co-author of three seminal books on custodial deaths and author of numerous articles and publications. She has advised on radio and TV documentaries and collaborated on theatre productions on social justice issues and is a regular media commentator.

She is also the Chair of trustees for, a trustee of Theatre Company and

Twitter @debatINQUEST

Angela Davis
Author & Activist

Through her activism and scholarship over the last decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in our nation's quest for social justice. Her work as an educator - both at the university level and in the larger public sphere - has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice.

Professor Davis' teaching career has taken her to San Francisco State University, Mills College, and UC Berkeley. She also has taught at UCLA, Vassar, the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford University. She spent the last fifteen years at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she is now Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D program, and of Feminist Studies.

Angela Davis is the author of nine books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List." Davis has also conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. Her most recent book is The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues.

Davis is a founding member Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia that works in solidarity with women in prison.

Like many other educators, Professor Davis is especially concerned with the general tendency to devote more resources and attention to the prison system than to educational institutions. Having helped to popularize the notion of a "prison industrial complex," she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.

Gina Dent
University of California

Gina Dent (Ph.D., English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. She served previously as the Director of the Institute for Advanced Feminist Research and as the Principal Investigator for the UC Multicampus Research Group on Transnationalizing Justice. She is the editor of Black Popular Culture ([1993] New York: The New Press, 1998) and author of articles on race, feminism, popular culture, and visual art. Her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology (Duke University Press) is a study of the consequences-both disabling and productive-of social science's role in translating black writers into American literature. Her current project grows out of her work as an advocate for human rights and prison abolition-Prison as a Border, on prisons, popular culture, and the conditions of knowledge. She has offered courses in critical race studies and black feminisms in Brazil (Universidade Federal da Bahia), Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Sweden (Linköping University) and lectures widely on these and other subjects. In June 2011, she was a member of a delegation of indigenous and women of color feminists to Palestine and speaks often from that experience.

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.

Dr. Sharon McIvor
Activist & Academic

Dr. Sharon McIvor is an indigenous activist and academic. She is a member of the Lower Nicola Indian Band located outside of Merritt B.C. She has a law degree from the University of Victoria, a Masters of Laws degree from Queens University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Victoria. . McIvor is an Instructor, Indigenous Studies, at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Merritt, British Columbia.

She writes and speaks on women's rights in the context of Aboriginal self-government. McIvor has worked in the areas of prison reform, violence against women (including aboriginal women), disability rights, aboriginal rights and equality rights. She was a member of the Wilson Task Force on the Status of Women in the Legal Profession and the Task Force on federally Sentenced Women. McIvor chaired the Committee that designed and built the Okima Ochi Healing Lodge, a federal Penitentiary designed for Aboriginal Women, in Saskatchewan.

She has played a key leadership role in the Native Women's Association of Canada for many years and is a member of the Feminist Alliance for International Action (this NGO successfully requested that the CEDAW Committee institute an Inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada) and the BC CEDAW coalition. McIvor, as plaintiff in the McIvor v. Canada case has successfully challenged the ongoing discrimination in the Indian Act which has forced the Federal Government to amend the Indian Act (the "McIvor" amendments). The "McIvor" Amendments added approximately 45,000 newly recognized Indians to the Indian Registry. McIvor has, as counsel, appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada on numerous occasions. She also takes her advocacy to the United Nations and Inter America Commission on Human Rights at an international level.

Kim Pate
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

Kim is mother to Michael and Madison. She is a lawyer and teacher by training and has completed post graduate work in the area of forensic mental health.

Kim is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), a federation of autonomous societies that work with, and on behalf of, marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized women and girls, throughout Canada. Kim is also a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, where she teaches courses on prison law, and defending battered women on trial.

Kim is an expert on the federal prison system, and on the conditions and treatment of criminalized women in Canada, and has also worked with youth and men during her 30 years of working in and around the legal and penal systems. She is the recipient of a number of awards in recognition of her work on equality and human rights. She was honorary doctorates awarded by the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier University.

Cassandra Shaylor
Justice Now USA

Cassandra 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. Over the years she has been active with numerous anti-prison and abolitionist organizations, including organizing with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and co-founding Critical Resistance.


Antoinette Braybrook
Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service in Victoria

Antoinette Braybrook is the CEO of the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service in Victoria. Antoinette is an Aboriginal woman who was born in Victoria on Wurundjeri country. Antoinette's grandfather and mother's line is through the Kuku Yalangi, North Queensland. Antoinette graduated Bachelor of Laws at Deakin University in 2000 and was admitted as a legal practitioner in Victoria in 2004. Antoinette is a member of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Forum, the peak coordinating body responsible for overseeing the development, implementation and direction of Koori initiatives under the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement and the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum as well as other committees and forums.
Antoinette also currently holds the position of National Convenor for the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum which comprises 13 organisations responsible for delivery of the FVPLS Program servicing 31 high-need regional and remote areas in Australia.

Priscilla Collins
North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency

Priscilla Collins is Eastern Arrernte from Central Australia and mother of 6 children. Priscilla is the CEO of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency which provides high-quality and culturally appropriate legal aid services for Indigenous people in the Top End. She is fully engaged in pursuing the rights of Indigenous people through law and policy reform.

As the Deputy Chairperson of National ATSILS, Cilla aims to work towards gaining justice for Indigenous people and keeping their culture, tradition and law strong. Cilla won Northern Territory Businesswoman of the year for the 2011 community and government sector. She holds a Master of Arts in Producing and is included in the 2008-2012 edition of Who's Who of Australian Women.

Previously Cilla was the CEO of the CAAMA Group, the largest Indigenous owned and operated multimedia organisation in Australia. She managed the commercial enterprises of the CAAMA Group through Radio Broadcasting, Remote Indigenous Broadcasting, Independent Music Label, Film and Television Production Company, Shops and Television Broadcasting.

Cilla actively promoted Indigenous culture, language, dance and music worldwide and worked with the Australian Indigenous Communications Association in establishing the National Indigenous Television Service. She was also the Executive Producer and Creator of the first Indigenous children's television series called Double Trouble produced for a commercial network, Channel 9, and Disney. "Double Trouble" was nominated for an AFI in 2008 for "Best Children's Drama".

Previously she was a Board Director on Indigenous Business Australia and Chairperson of the Indigenous Australian Indigenous Communications Association, Board Director of Imparja Television, National Indigenous Television Service and Indigenous Screen Australia.

Professor Megan Davies
University of New South Wales

Dr Megan Davis is a Professor of Law and a Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court. Professor Davis is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and a member of the NSW Sentencing Council.

Megan is a UN expert member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and holds portfolios including Administration of Justice and Gender and Women.
Professor Davis teaches, writes and researches in the areas of Public Law (Constitutional Law) and Public International Law and Indigenous Peoples and the Law.
In 2011, Megan was appointed to the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution and continues to be involved in legal discussions on the constitutional issues relating to the referendum model.

In addition, for the past seven years Megan has researched and worked in the area of Aboriginal women in particular Violence Against Indigenous Women and sentencing, political representation of Aboriginal women and the limitations of the human rights system for Indigenous Women. Megan's doctoral thesis, to be published in a forthcoming book, argues that the right to self-determination as it is recognised in international law does not pay adequate attention to the situation of Aboriginal women and explores in particular one aspect of Martha Nussbaum's theory of capabilities, a constitutional guarantee to equality.

Megan has extensive experience as an international lawyer at the UN and participated in the drafting of the UNDRIP from 1999-2004 and is a former UN Fellow of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
Megan is an admitted Legal Practitioner of the Supreme Court of the A.C.T. although currently not practising.

Professor Davis was awarded the 2010 NAIDOC Scholar of the Year and in 2013 awarded the National Australia Bank/Women's Agenda Inspirational Ambassador Award. Megan supports the North Queensland Cowboys and the Queensland Maroons.

Debbie Kilroy
Sisters Inside Inc.

Debbie Kilroy OAM, MLB, GDFMenH, GDLPrac, BSocWk is a former prisoner and the CEO of Sisters Inside-an independent community organisation in Brisbane, Australia that advocates for the human rights of criminalised women. Kilroy is a strong, active advocate for the implementation and monitoring of human rights within women's prisons and works against discriminatory practices. Kilroy has participated in several international meetings, including the expert meeting to develop the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules) and the Commission on the Status of Women sessions annually. She is the first person convicted of serious criminal offences admitted to practice law in Australia. Her expertise is in criminal defence law.

Melissa Lucashenko
Novelist & Founding Member of Sisters Inside

Melissa Lucashenko is an award-winning novelist who lives between Brisbane and the Bundjalung nation. Her writing explores the stories and passions of ordinary Australians with particular reference to Aboriginal people and others living around the margins of the First World. Melissa's most recent book is Mullumbimby, a contemporary novel of romantic love and cultural warfare which was awarded the prestigious 2013 Queensland Literary Award for Fiction.

Melissa is a founding member of Sisters Inside, a groundbreaking organization which supports criminalized women in Queensland. She is currently working on a novel of historical Queensland, as well as on a theatrical production with NORPA in Lismore.
Her website is at

Dr Anne Summers
Author & Journalist

Dr Anne Summers AO is a best-selling author, journalist and thought-leader with a long career in politics, the media, business and the non-government sector in Australia, Europe and the United States.

She is author of several books, including the classic Damned Whores and God's Police, first published in 1975, Ducks on the Pond, her autobiography in 1999, The End of Equality, (2003) On Luck (2008) and The Lost Mother (2009). Her new book The Misogyny Factor will be published in early 2013. She writes on politics and social issues regularly for a number of Australian newspapers including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and the Australian Financial Review and she is the editor and publisher of a new digital magazine Anne Summers Reports


All best endeavours will be made to present the program as printed on this website. The Conference and its agents reserve the right to alter without prior notice, any of the arrangements, timetables, plans or other items relating to the meeting, for any cause beyond its reasonable control. The Organising Committee and Sisters Inside Inc are not liable for any loss or inconvenience caused as a result of such alteration. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, the Organising Committee and the Sisters Inside Inc do not accept responsibility for loss of monies caused by delays. Participants are advised to take out personal travel insurance and to extend their policy to cover personal possessions. The Conference does not cover individuals against cancellations of bookings or theft or damage to belongings.

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