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Many prisoners experience significant challenges in reintegrating after their release from prison. These challenges can be compounded by social disadvantage and complex needs related to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, acquired brain injury, homelessness and unemployment.
The Corrections Victoria Reintegration Pathway provides pre-release programs responsive to each prisoner’s transitional needs on entry to prison, throughout their prison sentence and to assist with returning to the community. Post-release support is available to prisoners who require more intensive support.
With the objective of reducing risk to the Victorian community, the Corrections Victoria Reintegration Program targets seven critical domains as the key drivers of effective and successful reintegration:
- education and training
- independent living skills
- mental health
- alcohol and drugs
- family/community connectedness.
Transitional activities commence on entry and continue throughout a prisoner’s time in custody, building on achievements and interventions of previous stages.
Upon reception into custody, all prisoners receive the Reception Transition Triage (RTT) assessment, which aims to manage debt and take action to address any existing housing arrangements that, if left unaddressed, would lead to an exacerbation of debt and difficulty accessing housing in the future.
For remandees and prisoners serving sentences longer than 18 months a Case Planning Transition (CPT) assessment is conducted. The CPT builds on issues identified in the RTT, providing assistance and referrals for transitional needs that can be addressed during their sentence. For further information about programs for remandees see information regarding the Remand Release Assistance Program (RRAP) below.
A dedicated pre-release program titled ReGroup is available to all sentenced prisoners and commences up to 18 months prior to release (or immediately upon entry for prisoners serving shorter sentences). ReGroup provides general information and referral services to prisoners who are streamed into services or sessions most relevant to their needs.
Building on ReGroup, a contracted program, ReLink, is run by VACRO (the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) and is available for eligible prisoners up to 12 months prior to release.
There are two components, which provide practical advice and tailored transitional support, particularly for women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, and those serving longer sentences.
Group Program: Facilitated group sessions focus on practical strategies and provide an opportunity for positive behaviour change influenced by peers, while allowing for practice of positive skills.
Individual Program: This program supports individual transition case planning for prisoners identified in the group program as having significant transitional needs.
ReLink includes intensive planning around prisoner goals and formulates manageable steps for the prisoner to work through. Other support, including medical assessments, Office of Housing applications and referrals for post-release support agencies before release, is covered in this program.
ReConnect provides targeted (up to four weeks) and intensive (up to 12 months) post-release reintegration outreach services for serious violent or sex offenders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, women prisoners and prisoners with high transitional needs. It is designed to provide responsive, tailored and flexible support.
ReConnect is delivered by Jesuit Social Services (External link), Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO)(External link), Victorian Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO) (External link), and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (External link).
Remand Release Assistance Program (formerly the Court Discharge Information Session)
The Remand Release Assistance Program (RRAP) is available to remand prisoners who may be discharged directly from court. There are a number of reasons why a remand prisoner may be discharged from court - they might get bail, be released for time served, may receive a Community Correction Order and so forth. A large number of people exit the criminal justice system through direct court discharge.
The absence of known release dates for remand prisoners poses a number of challenges to pre-release transition planning.
The program aims to equip individuals with information about relevant support services that may be able to help them in the event of discharge directly from court.
The Remand Release Assistance Program provides information about the following:
- Centrelink payments and services, including the crisis payment
- crisis accommodation
- health services, including accessing medication
- drug and alcohol harm minimisation
- processes for collecting personal property and money from the prison
- information about the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) and CREDIT/Bail support programs.
Read more about available support in the What To Do If You Are Released From Court leaflet (in English or Vietnamese), and read more here about Remand.
Corrections Victoria Housing Program
The Corrections Victoria Housing Program (CVHP) can provide housing and support to individuals who are at risk of homelessness and at increased risk of reoffending upon release from prison. The CVHP has access to transitional housing placements through arrangements with Registered Housing Agencies. Eligible applicants must be engaged with ReConnect or the Community Support Program.
The CVHP recognises the importance of stable, supported accommodation for individuals to successfully transition from prison to the community and to reduce the risk of reoffending.
In addition to the CVHP, the Corrections Victoria Brokerage Program (CVBP) provides financial assistance to individuals to assist with securing long-term housing outcomes.
Further information about the Corrections Victoria Housing Program can be obtained by contacting the Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pip Wisdom Community Corrections Grants
The Pip Wisdom Community Corrections Grants (PWCCG) are named after Pip Wisdom, a senior public servant in the corrections system who contributed significantly to the advancement of the role of non-government agencies in providing correctional services in Victoria.
The grants are designed to assist in the successful transition of prisoners back into the community following their release from custody. Totalling $543,000 per annum, the grants provide community agencies with funding to deliver programs and services that contribute to the Corrections Victoria reducing reoffending framework.
Grants are provided on a three yearly basis, with the most recent round of grants covering a two year and nine month period from 1 October 2013 to 30 June 2016.
The tender process for the next round of grants will commence in late 2015 and will be advertised at www.vic.gov.au/grants/justice.html.
Further information about the grants can be obtained by contacting the Transition and Reintegration Unit at email@example.com
Muslim Connect is a pre- and post-release mentoring program for Muslim prisoners and offenders. The Islamic Council of Victoria provides this service in a number of prison locations. Participants are provided with personal, cultural and spiritual support in the final stages of their sentences and for up to two years in the community.
The African Visitation and Mentoring Program (AVAMP) matches prisoners and offenders from African nations with volunteer mentors, who provide support in both custody and after release. AVAMP is provided by Jesuit Social Services and is run in several prison locations.
The Prison Network Ministries’ Pre- and Post-release Support Program provides a range of services to women prisoners in both prison and after release. Services include practical support and assistance for women released from prison; sport, craft and cooking activities at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower Prison; 'Fun with Mum' facilitated activities for visiting children at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre; and transport services for children and other family members of women prisoners.
Shine for Kids Prison Invisits Program provides activities for children of prisoners to participate in with their imprisoned parent during visits on weekends. Prison Invisits is run at Barwon Prison, the Metropolitan Remand Centre and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.
The Transit program – delivered by the Salvation Army – provides short-term case management support to male prisoners with an acquired brain injury or intellectual disability who are being released from prison. Transit operates in the north-west metropolitan region of Melbourne.
The Bridge Employment, Support and Training (BEST) program – delivered by the YMCA - provides employment-related training and support to young prisoners aged up to 30 years at the Metropolitan Remand Centre and Marngoneet Correctional Centre. The program provides participants with work and life skills training, vocational assessment, and supported employment placements on release.
The NOVO Recovery Program – delivered by ACSO – provides a comprehensive transitional release assessment, planning and support program for women prisoners on remand who have a diagnosed mental illness (DSM Axis 1 or 2).
The Genesis Reintegration Program – delivered by Bridging Worx Incorporated – provides culturally specific pre- and post release support to Pacific Island and Maori prisoners. It focuses on a holistic model of reintegration planning, utilising the identified support system of the prisoner.
The Vietnamese Support Program-delivered by Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association-provides culturally appropriate support to Vietnamese prisoners and their families through prison visits, development of supportive relationships, provision of information, referral to specialist support and family liaison, particularly with families living in Vietnam.
Vietnamese celebrations are held in selected prisons for Lunar New Year and Full Moon Festival. The program aims to maintain links with the Vietnamese community. Phone support is provided to families of prisoners worldwide.
The Family Links Innovation Program (FLIP)-delivered by VACRO-provides an initial information service to prisoners and their families with additional assessment, referral and support available as required.
The aim is to assist families to maintain links with prisoners, to support the family unit and strengthen their capacity to maintain a positive relationship with the prisoner during their incarceration. The FLIP worker will provide information, intensive short-term intervention and referral to a wide range of community organisations most relevant to the individual family.