ARC Future Fellow and Law School academic at Griffith University, Professor Elena Marchetti, is evaluating a unique creative writing prison program at Junee Correction Centre in New South Wales, which is helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men strengthen their connection to culture.

Conceived in 2010 by Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Barbara Nicholson, and established in 2011, the Dreaming Inside: Voices from the Junee Correctional Centre Prisoner Writing Program is the only prison creative writing program that specifically targets Indigenous inmates.

The program has provided Indigenous men with an opportunity to use creative writing as a form of expression and exercise a form of agency by publishing their poems and stories in books, without censorship. Professor Marchetti also notes that the program enables the men to engage with Elders and other community members, fostering cultural connections.

The work forms part of a larger ARC Future Fellowship project evaluating Indigenous-focused criminal justice programs in ways that acknowledge and privilege the position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Each year, the latest volume of Dreaming Inside is launched by the Wollongong Art Gallery as part of the Sydney Writers Festival and at the Junee Correctional Centre with men who are present at the workshop.

Image (top) : Dreaming Inside tutor and founder Aunty Barbara Nicholson reads poetry from the anthology of poems written by Junee Correctional Centre inmates at the Sydney Writers Festival.
Image (bottom) : Dreaming Inside.
Credit: Wollongong Art Gallery.