This paper draws from data gathered for an Australian Research Council funded study conducted in Victoria and NSW between 2011-2015 that examined how dependent children are responded to when their primary carer is imprisoned, with a specific focus on how care is managed at the key points of arrest, incarceration and release. In particular, this paper specifically addresses a gap in research and theory by examining the current state of support for incarcerated fathers from imprisonment through to release. To do so, interviews with 39 primary carer fathers incarcerated in Victoria are analysed at phase one and 19 at phase two (six months later). This paper argues that there is a distinct lack of support for fathers from imprisonment to release, acting as a barrier towards maintaining father-child relationships. Findings indicate that three-quarters of the fathers in this study were never offered, nor did they access, any parenting support services or programs in prison. Further, that any support offered tended to come from family or friends. By clearly highlighting the state of fathering programs from prison to release in Victoria this paper will offer smart solutions as to how best facilitate the connection between incarcerated fathers and their children.


Tess Bartlett
Monash University
PhD Candidate

Biography: Tess Bartlett is a PhD candidate at Monash University. She obtained a degree in Psychology and Criminology, Honours (first class) and a Masters in Criminology. She is currently researching the experiences of incarcerated primary carer fathers in Victoria. Her research explores fathering in prison through a lens of masculinity, identity and the self and how fathers navigate the carceral space at the key stages of arrest, imprisonment and post-release. Tess has worked for around ten years as a teaching associate in criminology and on a number of projects researching families in the criminal justice system and can be found on Twitter at @tscbartlett


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