Dr Angela Williams

story teller + culture analyst+ justice activist

Do you need a critical set of eyes on your policies, governance, or project?

I’m probably the analyst you’re looking for.


To give people with lived experience a voice in conversations about prison, corrections and justice.

I am based on the South Coast of NSW but am able to travel.

About me

Dr Angela Williams
Author of Snakes and Ladders

I am a high school drop out with a PhD who went to prison twice for the same crime, thirteen years apart.

I was young and foolish the first time, not so much the second time.

I was arrested months after submitting my first class Honours. My brain was working hard and fast. Poor timing for the correctional system but excellent for my research career (and readers).

My expertise is power.

My methodology is qualitative analysis.

My approach is fearless.

Meet me here on Studio 10 in February 2020.

Snakes and Ladders

Cover Snakes and Ladders

My book Snakes and Ladders was published by Affirm Press in 2020.

‘Snakes and Ladders is devastating and brilliant. Williams is a tremendous writer, her insight into power and punishment is brave, honest and revealing.’ Anna Krien

‘Tough, courageous, and moving, it’s about empowerment as much as powerlessness and, ultimately, the nature of power.’
The Age

What does a ‘culture analyst’ do?

A cultural analyst helps us to understand the nuances of the human experience by comparing the lived experiences of the world with the official narratives. Cultural analysis can be framed around a question, object or topic to uncover new insights.

A cultural analyst can help uncover stories and narratives that may be hidden or excluded by other forms of research and data collection. Official narratives, such as policies, procedures, strategic visions and expert reports, are a ‘top down’ form of communication that centres the voice of the organisation or management. These stories about an organisation can become so pervasive that it becomes difficult for dissenting voices to speak up, particularly when the cohort includes those living on the margins of society.

Cultural analysis can help organisations and policy makers better understand how their strategic visions, policies and procedures are being felt by those coming at them from below.

Cultural analysis takes a needs-based approach to research methods and theoretical stances, but the basic drives of the cultural analyst can be understood as a form of storytelling.

Cultural analysis process
The cultural analysis process

The cultural analysis story telling process begins when we engage with our sources, by reading, watching or interviewing to find out the stories being told at each level of the story. This is a process of listening and absorbing. In an

We then interrogate these stories by unpacking their relations to each other and to the wider structural and social forces in play in and around the organisation. As we place our stories alongside the forces driving them, we start to be able to unpack the qualitative data, the places where lived experience

My research credentials combined with lived experience and peer outreach training presents a unique opportunity for me to enter these spaces and collect first-hand stories and data from people in or leaving custody.

Research strengths.    

Select media

Podcast – Deboning Power

BAD Sydney Crime Writer’s Festival, November 2020.

How public do strip searches in NSW need to be before we get outraged?, 2020 Women’s Agenda

Do people in prison matter less in an emergency than those who are free?, 2020 The Guardian

Angela did time when she was 19. At 34, she was told her sentence wasn’t finished, 2020 ABC Radio National (by Erin Stutchbury)

Working as a casual? Zip your lip and do as you’re told, 2016 The Guardian – Anonymous Academic

Fred Nile under fire for Facebook post about Charlotte Dawson abortion, 2014 The Sydney Morning Herald (by Michaela Whitbourn)

Mental health behind bars: why women prisoners are set up to fail, 2010 Crikey (as ‘Jennifer’, by Inga Ting)

Foster families are invisible in a system in a system crying out to be fixed, 2008 Sydney Morning Herald – First Word (letters to the editor)

Peer Credentials

  • 2013: Street-based Outreach Training, Kirketon Road Clinic, Darlinghurst
  • 2013: Providing outreach to Sex Workers, Sex Worker’s Outreach Project NSW
  • 2013: Accidental Counselling, Aids Council of NSW
  • 1996: Hep C peer support short course, Mulawa Women’s Correctional Centre

Select research

Williams, AJ 2017, ‘Autobiographical research in a post-traumatic body: a retrospective risk analysis’, TEXT: Writing and Trauma, eds. Bridget Haylock and Suzanne Hermanoczki (peer reviewed)

Ballard, S and Williams, A 2015, ‘Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts 2015 Curriculum Transformation Project Pilot: CACS101 Contemporary Creative Practice; Development of Online Case Studies 2015’, Unpublished Report (submitted to UOW, December 2015).

Martin, C, Tattersall, K and Williams, A 2014, ‘Triple stigmas for transgender and aboriginal ‘Sistergirl’ sex workers in NSW: gathering stories from our communities to understand their intersection with evidence-based health practice and prevention of HIV’, poster presented at AIDS2014, Melbourne, Australia, 21 July.

Williams, A 2012, ‘Gaol behind closed doors: What the media can’t show us when it comes to Home Detention’, paper presented at the University of Wollongong Crime, Cameras, Action Conference, University of Wollongong, Australia, 18 February, 2012,