So What If …

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at The Wheeler CentreBook your tickets

We Didn’t Have Prisons?

Australia’s prison populations are booming and their demographics are heavily skewed – with Indigenous Australians shockingly over-represented. Why do we rely so heavily on prisons in our criminal justice system, and what would our society look like if we abolished incarceration? What are the alternatives in terms of prevention, deterrence and rehabilitation? What would we do about violent citizens? And what changes might we need to make to our health, housing and education systems to enable a prison-free society?

Presented in partnership with Melbourne Knowledge Week.


Portrait of Robyn Oxley

Robyn Oxley

Robyn Oxley is a Tharawal woman from the South-West Sydney area of New South Wales with family connections to the Yorta Yorta clan along the Murray River in Victoria. She is an Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts for the School of Social Sciences in Criminology.

Robyn has a strong interest in the Indigenous experience within all aspects of the criminal justice setting and is interested in focusing on the criminalisation of Aboriginal women in Victoria.

Portrait of Meriki Onus

Meriki Onus

Meriki Onus is a Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman who grew in Gippsland. Meriki is currently doing policy and advocacy at Djirra. She also has significant experience in campaigning in community on issues such as deaths in custody, youth detention, racism and more recently the Djapwurrung trees. Meriki is also a co-founder of Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance and is one of the organisers of Melbourne Invasion Day ‘Abolish Australia Day’ rally. She is passionate about transformative justice and abolition in her community.

Portrait of Debbie Kilroy

Debbie Kilroy

After her release from prison in 1992, Debbie Kilroy established Sisters Inside to fight for the human rights of incarcerated women and to address gaps in services available to them and their children. Since then, Debbie has completed four tertiary degrees – in social work, forensic mental health and law – and was the first and only former prisoner to be admitted as a legal practitioner in Queensland.

How much?

This is a free event. Bookings are essential. We recommend arriving early to secure your seat. Read our ticketing FAQs here.Book your tickets

So What If …

Swing by the Wheeler Centre in May for a series of lunchtime talks about the future. We promise no hazy trend-forecasting; we’ll stick to specifics. We’ll speculate on social structures and systems – from citizenship and gender to law and order – and discuss how changing things up might change our world. In partnership with Melbourne Knowledge Week, we’ll ask: what's broken, what's working, and what should we leave behind?


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