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We Didn’t Have Prisons?


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 Oxley

Robyn Oxley is a Tharawal woman from South-West Sydney with family connections to Yorta Yorta along the Murray River, near Echuca in Victoria. Robyn is a Lecturer in Criminology for the School of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University. Her research interests focus on Aboriginal ... 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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Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respect to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.