Women's health care experiences in Victorian prisons will be the focus of a Federation University PhD student throughout the next three years.
Jennifer Martin's interest in the topic was triggered by her own experience in prison five years ago.
She said she experienced difficulty accessing her regular medication and treatment for Sleep Apnea during her four month imprisonment.
"I was on a number of medications when I first went in and they were stopped suddenly with no explanation," Ms Martin said.
The mental stress of just going to prison to start with and then not having my medications on top of that really exacerbated the whole experience.Jennifer Martin, PhD student
"There were delays in getting all my medicine back on track and initially they also wouldn't let me have access to a CPAP machine for my Sleep Apnea. I didn't complain at the time because I was so scared.
"The mental stress of just going to prison to start with and then not having my medications on top of that really exacerbated the whole experience. But at the same time I didn't complain because I knew I had done the wrong thing and I thought that was the consequence of my actions, that I deserved the treatment I was getting."
Since her release from prison in 2014, Ms Martin has completed a Bachelor and Honours degree in criminal justice at Federation University.
She said it was not until studying human rights at university that she realised all prisoners had the right to basic health care.
"That was really what got me thinking about my experiences and wondering what other women have experienced. That is the whole basis of my research," she said.
Ms Martin is currently in the process of designing her study and preparing for Confirmation of Candidature to become a PhD candidate.
It is hoped research will involve interviews with women who have been released from prison and post-release support providers.
RELATED COVERAGE: Prison means better health care for some
Ms Martin said her investigations would focus on health care before, during and after prison to examine how women's experiences align with health through-care and human rights principles currently in place in Victoria.
"It is my opinion that the socio-economic status of women and their health needs when they go in to prison, the health care they receive in prison and the care they receive post release is all inter-related," she said.
"Each part needs to be good to help women change their lives and make sure when they go back into the community they are in a healthier state than when they went in to prison."
"I am hoping my research will allow the voices of criminalised women to be heard, add new knowledge to the field of criminal justice and possibly in the future inform policy and future delivery of health care for incarcerated women."
Australia Bureau of Statistics data shows female prisoner numbers increased at a faster rate than male prisoners in 2018, up 10 per cent from 30 June 2017 to a total of 3625 prisoners. Male prisoners increased 4 per cent in the same time frame.
Males continue to comprise the majority of the Australian prison population accounting for 92 per cent of total prisoners, the data shows.
Ms Martin's research is expected to be completed by February 2022.
Ms Martin is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend and RTP FeeOffset Scholarship through Federation University Australia.