Art Inside: Using self-expression to learn about viral hepatitis
15 January 2018
Health Promotion Officer Sione Crawford is managing the second year of Art Inside, a project run by Hepatitis Victoria in partnership with Justice Health, the part of Corrections Victoria responsible for health and well-being of prisoners. The goal is to create a resource illustrated with prisoner’s art work to help educate their fellows about viral hepatitis. Justice Health recognises the virus as an important health issue inside that must be tackled.
Sione talks about the results of the project in a Hepatitis Victoria podcast interview.
“Art Inside is a project based around the artistic impulses of prisoners with the idea of u tilising those impulses to get them and others to think about viral hepatitis and its treatment,” he says.
“Why do we choose art? Prison is a closed environment with a much higher rate of hepatitis B and C than in the general community, but those in prison don’t necessarily want to attend a session called ‘hepatitis prevention’ as it could expose them to unwanted attention from the authorities or other prisoners,” he says.
Hepatitis B and C come with strong stigmas - a very serious matter for people inside.
“Art is a way to talk about hepatitis B and C by using the artistic creativity of the prisoners. They don’t get many things of their own and this project is an opportunity for them to receive very simple things like sketch pads and pencils, which is huge”.
Art Inside the West began at Port Philip prison for men and Dame Phyllis Frost prison for women in 2016. Last year the programme was expanded to seven (mainly male) prisons in Victoria.
“People in prison are at least 20 times more likely to have hepatitis than the rest of the population and at least a quarter of the prison population has hepatitis C, but not everyone consents to the test, therefore the number with the virus is likely to be higher,” Sione says.
43 entries have been submitted for the project and although it is not a competition per se the best examples will be used in the resource to be produced. Steven Taylor, Hepatitis Victoria and Justice Health will make a call on the best pieces and everyone who entered will get a thank you note and a certificate.
“In the past, we have created playing cards and a calendar from the art works and we will use as many of the entries as possible in whatever resource we create,” Sione says.
Hepatitis Victoria gratefully acknowledges Justice Health and Corrections Victoria. Their funding support and access to prisons made this project possible. In addition, we would like to thank all the Programs and Health Promotion staff, Recreational Officers and Correctional Officers who facilitated our work with the prisoners. We would most especially like to thank all of the prisoners who attended sessions and provided us with their wonderful art.
View a gallery of this year’s Art Inside images and listen to the podcast interview.