In-cell TVs reduce incidents of self-harm and suicide in Aboriginal prisoners

by Kate Bourne

Access to an in-cell television can significantly improve the psychological wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, and reduce incidents of self-harm and suicide, according to a University of Adelaide researcher.

Researcher, Dr Elizabeth Grant, has found that in-cell televisions provide other benefits beyond filling in time.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today have a strong relationship with television," says Dr Grant, senior lecturer and researcher at Wirltu Yarlu Aboriginal Education at the University of Adelaide. "It educates and links them to the wider community, particularly those living in remote areas. And Aboriginal programs can help reinforce cultural identity and pride."

Dr Grant surveyed male Aboriginal and found 87% said access to an in-cell television was the most important amenity in prison accommodation.

"In-cell televisions help prisoners remain connected to the outside world, reducing feelings of isolation," Dr Grant says.

"Some prisoners even said they chose a physically less 'healthy' custodial environment in order to have access to a personal television."

Dr Grant says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in Australian prisons and are more likely than other groups of prisoners to suffer from adverse psychological effects.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprise 2.5% of the total Australian population and 26% of the Australian prison community," Dr Grant says.

"Research has found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners experience increased feelings of despair, hopelessness and isolation."

Dr Grant says there is a community perception that all prisoners should be disadvantaged and not provided with 'luxuries' like televisions.

"The popular view of prisons as 'holiday camps' offering an array of 'luxuries' to an undeserving and dangerous underclass continues to circulate. However, 94% of prisoners will return to live in society, so it's important that the prison system inflicts as little long-term psychological damage as possible," she says.

"Providing prisoners with televisions is a cost-effective way to reduce anxiety and manage mental health issues."

More information: "More than guns or grog: The role of television for the health and wellbeing of Australian Aboriginal prisoners." Grant, Elizabeth Maree, Jewkes, Yvonne. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 2013; 25(2):667-682

Related Stories

Call for focus on Aboriginal strengths

date Apr 15, 2013

Australia needs a new way to view the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with a focus on their strengths, empowerment, resilience and achievements, a new study has proposed.

Improving teaching in Indigenous education

date Aug 27, 2012

Teachers' professional development in understanding Indigenous cultures and teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students needs to be improved greatly to meet new government standards, according ...

Human trials for Streptococcus A vaccine

date Feb 28, 2013

Griffith University's Institute for Glycomics has launched human trials for a vaccine against Streptococcus A, the germ that causes rheumatic fever.

Diet and nutrient intake of Indigenous Australians poor

date Jul 14, 2008

Indigenous Australians eat more white bread, processed meat, added butter and added sugar than the average Australian, and fall well short of national fruit and vegetable recommendations, according to new research.

Recommended for you

Federal appeals court rejects Arkansas' 12-week abortion ban

date 1 hour ago

A federal appeals court struck down a key abortion restriction in Arkansas on Wednesday, agreeing with a lower court judge that it was inappropriate to ban most abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy if a doctor can detect ...

Link between alcohol outlets and assaults

date 4 hours ago

A study exploring the established link between off-premise alcohol outlets and the rate of assaults and injuries in Australia has found that large bottleshops and liquor chains contribute most substantially ...

Mobilising against hypertension in South Africa

date 5 hours ago

Lifestyle-related disease is on the rise in South Africa, including high blood pressure. An ingenious partnership involving Oxford University is putting the nation's extensive mobile phone network to work ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.