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Lived Experience

In our campaign and advocacy work to reduce incarceration, the Justice Reform Initiative advocates for the meaningful involvement of people with lived and living prison experience. We recognise that the expertise of people who have lived in prison has too often been absent from important conversations and decisions that are about them.  

We are proud to work for and alongside people who have lived in prison. We believe that every organisation has the ability to create meaningful employment and career trajectory opportunities for formerly incarcerated people and we advocate for the removal of structural barriers that prevent this engagement.   

A lack of understanding about people who have lived in prison often fuels stigma and unhelpful stereotypes. The Justice Reform Initiative is working to centre and elevate the expertise of people with lived experience, in recognition that formerly incarcerated people often have to do all the heavy lifting to prove their worth and correct biases.  

It is our hope that through our successful projects, collaborations, and working relationships with formerly incarcerated staff and community members that the lived experience community will continue to grow and thrive, and that criminal justice policy will be better informed by the expertise and wisdom that only lived experience can provide. 

We have developed a Lived Experience Framework as a resource for the sector and others. You can access it here.

If you have lived or living experience of incarceration and would like to get involved with the work of the Justice Reform Initiative, we would love to hear from you. Please e-mail [email protected] or call 0426 964 795.  


We are running a pilot project from early 2024 to mid 2025 where 20 people with lived experience of prison will receive free training and support to develop skills as speakers and advocates in the ACT/Queanbeyan region. The free training will cover things such as:

  • Creative storytelling.
  • Working with the media.
  • Sharing stories safely.
  • Political campaigning.
  • Cultural support (for First Nations participants).
  • And much more.

Lived experience can come from the adult and/or youth justice system, but people participating must now be aged over 18 and live or work in the ACT/Queanbeyan region. The project will use a mix of online and face-to-face training, as well as provide a range of support for paid speaking engagements in the future.   

The first training course has now been completed but we are taking Expressions of Interest for the training course that will occur in the second half of 2024 (August/September).

If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in, you can let us know via one of the following ways:

Want to find out more information before applying? Read Jayke's story here - he's a recent graduate of the program. 

We are deeply grateful to Hands Across Canberra/Chief Minister's Charitable Fund for their support of this pilot project. 


Do you want to engage a person with lived experience of incarceration....

  • To speak at an event in person in the ACT/Queanbeyan region?
  • To speak at an event online?
  • To invite them to join a reference or advisory group?
  • To invite them to undertake any other consulting or advisory work?
  • For a media interview?

Please click on the link below and complete the request form.