Improving the lives of children with incarcerated mothers

The forgotten victims of crime

This project aims to identify how children’s experiences of maternal incarceration shape the course of their lives. These children are one of the most vulnerable yet invisible groups in society, and are rising in number.

We will look at how the system works by examining the child protection, justice, education and health services. Using a unique linked dataset across 30 years and three generations, we will look at the social and economic outcomes and how these are affected by prison, child and maternal characteristics.

This study expects to advance the knowledge of the social and financial impact of maternal incarceration by providing critical evidence to inform prevention strategies. The project has the potential to disrupt intergenerational patterns of profound disadvantage through its research.

Specifically, our work will:

  • Determine the scope of the population of WA children who experience the incarceration of their mother throughout their childhood.
  • Determine the impact of maternal incarceration on children’s and mothers’ health and social outcomes.
  • Estimate the costs of maternal incarceration to individuals and society.

PhD opportunities

PhD students interested in this project are encouraged to apply. Requirements specific to this project include having an understanding of epidemiology and quantitative skills or experience in analysing large complex datasets, or willingness to undergo additional training in this area. For more information contact Professor David Preen.

If you are interested in exploring this research topic further, refer to the reading list below.

Our collaborators


Murdoch children's research institute  Griffith University logo  University of South Australia logo

Contact Professor David Preen