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Once weren’t warriors: The impact of criminalisation and incarceration upon Aboriginal men.
Aboriginal men are all too often only cast as “warriors”. They always have been, and always will be much more than this. Social and cultural roles and responsibilities add depth and complexity to this narrative about masculinity.

Seminar Overview 

Dr Shea Spierings, a Gaangalu man from Central Queensland, will present the findings of his PhD at this upcoming seminar. During his PhD, over four years, Shea worked with Aboriginal men across Queensland, who had been criminalised and incarcerated, to understand the impact of their selfhood on their terms.

As background to this seminar, Aboriginal men in Australia are some of the most incarcerated people on the planet, yet despite this, there appears to be little action to remedy this situation. Overall, the rate of Aboriginal men’s incarceration is 4180 per 100,000 meaning around four per cent of Aboriginal men are imprisoned at any point in time. In some communities, this escalates to around 25-30 per cent of the male population incarcerated.

Dominant forms of assistance, rehabilitation and reintegration both prior to and post imprisonment, largely fail to address challenges for Aboriginal men such as selfhood and barriers that impede participation in communal, social and cultural roles and responsibilities. The way forward is to start implementing restorative justice and reintegration initiatives developed by and for Aboriginal men, and delivered by Aboriginal community-controlled consortiums to change this discourse and human rights travesty.

About the speaker

Shea is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow investigating COVID-19 health messaging in Indigenous communities, health systems, health governance, and Aboriginal men’s health. Shea’s PhD research utilised both Indigenous and mainstream qualitative conceptual and methodological tools to unpack Aboriginal men’s stories to highlight the complex intersection between the criminalisation of Indigeneity, Aboriginal masculinity, and Aboriginal health.

Shea has previously worked in the Indigenous Community Controlled Health Sector and has served as a Deadly Choices Ambassador. He is currently a Non-Executive Director for the Sunshine Coast Health Network. In 2015 Shea was appointed by the Australian Government to serve as the Australian Youth Delegate to the United Nations (UN). Prior to this, Shea worked in various policy and community development roles, and in the construction industry.

Seminar recording

About UQ Poche Seminar Series on Indigenous Health

Our Seminar Series brings together the Indigenous health research community. This series showcases high-quality presentations from researchers, academics, HDR students, health professionals and community leaders.

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