System Failure: The Over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women in Prison at Wesley House

Thursday, 2018, July 19 -
5:30pm to 6:30pm
Wesley House 140 Ann Street Brisbane, Qld 4000

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women comprise 34 per cent of women behind bars but only 2 per cent of the adult female Australian population.

The majority of those incarcerated are mothers.

Implications are profound as trauma is embedded in communities through the separation of families, use of mandatory strip-searches and cycling of girls into the adult prison system as they mature.

Despite this, there have been limited solutions targeted at addressing the issue.

Join moderator Melissa Lucashenko in discussion with our expert panellists about how we arrived at this point and what we can do to advance change.

Our Panellists

Magistrate Jacqui Payne

Magistrate Jacqui Payne was both the first Indigenous woman to be admitted as a solicitor in Queensland and the state's first Indigenous Magistrate. She presides in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Magistrate Payne has a background in criminal law in both private practice and for the former ATSI Corporation Legal Service.

Shahleena Musk



Shahleena is a Larrakia woman from Darwin in the Northern Territory. She is currently a Senior Lawyer in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit of the Human Rights Law Centre.

Shahleena has extensive experience in varied legal roles including as a Crown Prosecutor, at Aboriginal Legal Services and leading youth justice work at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

Neta-Rie Mabo


Neta-Rie is a Piadram/Munburra woman. She is the Youth Program Manager at Sisters Inside.

Neta-Rie is also an accomplished artist who has been the artist-in-residence for the State Library of Queensland’s kuril dhagun Indigenous centre.



This event is proudly presented in partnership with Sisters Inside and Griffith University's Law School.

Refreshments will be provided following the panel discussion.

Tweet about this event using the hashtag #CaxtonJIFS.

The Justice in Focus Series is a set of regular public forums that enrich public debate on topics of local and national importance. Each forum features a panel of leading thinkers representing a range of socio-legal views on the topic. 

Caxton Legal Centre partners with the law schools at Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland to present the series.










Wesley House

140 Ann Street

Brisbane, Qld 4000

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Organizer of System Failure: The Over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women in Prison

Caxton Legal Centre offers free legal advice to people who are on a low income or who face other disadvantage.

We are an independent, non-profit community organisation providing free legal advice, social work services, information and referrals.

For further information visit our website at