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We Didn’t Have Prisons?


Event Status

This event is now fully booked. We have reserved spaces for any First Nations people who missed out on a booking – please email or call 03 9094 7800 to request one.

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.


Robyn Newitt

Robyn Newitt is a proud Dharawal (South-West Sydney area of New South Wales) and Yorta Yorta (Echuca and Shepparton area along the Murray River in Victoria) woman. Robyn currently works within the Department of Social Work and the School of Primary and Allied Health Care at Monash University. Robyn ... Read more

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 i... Read more

Debbie Kilroy

Debbie Kilroy was imprisoned for drug trafficking in 1989 for six years. She was stabbed and witnessed the only murder inside an Australian women’s prison, and lost almost everything: her marriage, her home and her children. After her release in 1992, Debbie established Sisters Inside to advo... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.