According to University of South Australia report, Muslims comprise 3.2% of the NSW population but a disproportionate 9.3% of the state prison population is Muslim. This means a sizable portion of the inmates released on parole are Muslim who come from a significantly disadvantaged sector of Australian society. Compared to other Australians, Muslims in Australia are less likely to own or be purchasing their own home and they earn significantly less at the individual and household levels. 25% of Muslim children live in poverty compared to 14% of all other Australian children. Muslims have higher rates of unemployment than the general population and are less likely to be in the labour market. Older Muslims are significantly more likely to be disabled and need assistance with core function. On subjective measures of wellbeing Muslims are less likely to feel safe than other Australians. Other cultural and religious factors coupled with this socio-economic status presents a need to offer Muslim parolees a program a customized focus. This paper argues that a community-based parolee program would be more effective in reducing re-offence and institutionalization rates in NSW prisons. The paper describes the features of such a program after a trial conducted in Sydney in 2015.

Mehmet Ozalp
Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation

Biography: Dr Mehmet Ozalp is an Associate Professor of Islamic studies and the Director of the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation which he founded at Charles Sturt University. He is also the Executive Director of ISRA (Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia). Under his leadership ISRA pioneered teaching Islam as a faith tradition at the university level with Islamic studies courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Mehmet is an author, public intellectual and community leader, and has been involved in community service since 1992. He has been serving as the Muslim Chaplain at the University of Sydney and the Macquarie University since 2006. He was awarded Australian Muslim Role Model of the year in 2012. He is the author of three books: 101 Questions You Asked About Islam, Islam in the Modern World and Islam between Tradition and Modernity: An Australian Perspective.

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