Territory Stories

Investigation into hearing impairment among Indigenous prisoners within the Northern Territory Correctional Services

Details:

Title

Investigation into hearing impairment among Indigenous prisoners within the Northern Territory Correctional Services

Creator

Vanderpoll, Troy; Howard, Damien

Collection

E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT

Date

2011-07-06

Description

"This project identified that some experienced corrections officers have developed communication skills that help them communicate more effectively with inmates with hearing loss and that the use of amplification devices can lessen communication problems experienced by inmates with hearing loss. These results suggest there are potential benefits in addressing widespread hearing loss among NT Indigenous inmates. These benefits include improved inmate management practices and enhanced wellbeing among inmates, as well as better rehabilitation outcomes and lower levels of recidivism." - Executive Summary

Notes

Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).

Table of contents

Executive summary -- Introduction -- Purpose -- Method -- Equipment -- Results -- Inmates' self-reports -- Discussion: Implications for NT Corrections - Use of amplification devices - Hearing loss as a barrier to rehabilitation -- Recommendations -- Conclusion -- Appendix -- References

Language

English

Subject

Aboriginal peoples (Australians); Aboriginal prisoners; Deafness

Publisher name

Northern Territory Correctional Services

Place of publication

Darwin

Format

21 pages ; 30 cm.

File type

application/pdf

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government

Parent handle

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/277078

Citation address

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/424325

Page content

Investigation into hearing impairment among Indigenous prisoners within the Northern Territory Correctional Services July 2011 3 1. Executive Summary An investigation among inmates in Northern Territory correctional facilities found more than 90% of Indigenous inmates had a significant hearing loss. Comments by inmates indicate that hearing impairment is often a significant disability in a custodial environment that contributes to the breakdown in communication with prison officers. This project identified that some experienced corrections officers have developed communication skills that help them communicate more effectively with inmates with hearing loss and that the use of amplification devices can lessen communication problems experienced by inmates with hearing loss. These results suggest there are potential benefits in addressing widespread hearing loss among NT Indigenous inmates. These benefits include improved inmate management practices and enhanced wellbeing among inmates, as well as better rehabilitation outcomes and lower levels of recidivism. 2. Introduction Within the Northern Territory Corrections, Indigenous inmates are over represented. In 2010 there were 1100 inmates with 82% being Indigenous people1 although Indigenous people comprise only 30% of the NT population. There is national concern about the over representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system2. There has been speculation about the role that widespread hearing loss in Indigenous communities may play a part in the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system3,4. If a significant proportion of Indigenous inmates have a hearing loss there are important implications for the criminal justice system overall, including corrections facilities4. The higher prevalence of hearing loss among Indigenous adults is mostly an outcome of pervasive childhood ear disease among Indigenous children. Indigenous people experience ear disease that starts earlier, lasts longer and reoccurs more often than other Australians5. The worst ear disease that affects a higher proportion of people occurs in communities where there is greatest general disadvantage; such as in remote Indigenous communities in the NT. For example, crowded housing spreads infection and compromises hygiene leading to more children experiencing persistent infections5. These persistent ear infections during childhood can damage the ear drum and other middle ear structures, so that adults with a history of persistent ear disease often have some degree of permanent hearing loss. The World Health Organisation reports Australian Indigenous people have the highest rate of perforations of the ear drum of all countries surveyed6. Because of the early onset of this type of conductive hearing loss, people may be unaware that they hear differently to others. One study in a youth detention centre in the Northern Territory7 suggested as many as 90% of Indigenous youth in detention may have a hearing lossi. In 2010 the Senate Hearing Health Inquiry4 raised serious concerns about hearing loss among Indigenous inmates. This Senate Inquiry4 made a number of recommendations including recommendation 27 which directly relates to custodial institutions. Recommendation 27 The Committee recommends that the Department of Health and Ageing work closely with state and territory jurisdictions to develop and implement a national plan which:


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