The Children's Commission of Queensland in Australia is working with the Queensland Government's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board to strengthen Indigenous families affected by the incarceration of a father. Indigenous people are imprisoned at a rate that is 13 times that of the non-Indigenous population. Many of the incarcerated men are fathers with children who experience the grief of parental separation, financial difficulties, and social stigma from the community. Recognizing that attempts to support Indigenous people must be designed in the context of cultural traditions, the Children's Commission established a partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board to create a fathering program for Indigenous prisoners at the Lotus Glen Correctional Centre. Focus groups with Indigenous and government stakeholders revealed several important issues for the project, including the broad definition of father within the Indigenous culture, the concern about the epidemic of crime among young men, and the need for the inmate and the family to understand the situation. One community group recommended that the fathering program include activities inside and outside of the prison and that it be based on existing positive programs, with input from the Elders of the community. The Children's Commission currently is in the process of reviewing the literature about fathering programs and hiring a project officer. 20 references and 1 note.
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