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Independent Prison Visitor Scheme
The Independent Prison Visitor Scheme (IPVS) commenced in 1986. Its purpose is to engage volunteers to provide independent advice to the Minister for Corrections about the operation of Victoria’s prison system from a community perspective. The Minister for Corrections appoints Independent Prison Visitors under Section 35 of the Corrections Act 1986 to a specific prison on the recommendation of the Justice Assurance and Review Office (JARO), formerly the Office of Correctional Services Review (OCSR).
The role of an Independent Prison Visitor
The primary role of an Independent Prison Visitor (IPV) is to provide the Minister for Corrections with independent objective advice on the operations of the prison they visit. They do this through the regular observation of prison routines and activities as well as the referral and reporting of any issues, concerns or positive initiatives.
Independent Prison Visitors are available to speak with prisoners, staff and visitors to the prison regarding any matter but do not act as advocates. There are currently 35 volunteers visiting prisons across the state (as at 18 January 2018).
Independent Prison Visitors:
- undertake IPV visits on a monthly basis at their appointed prison
- meet with the prison general manager (or delegate) for the entry and exit briefs at each visit
- observe a range of prison routines/activities/functions across visits
- be available to meet with prisoners, staff and visitors to the prison
- adhere to all security requirements of the prison
- provide a written electronic report to the Minister for Corrections via the OCSR following each visit
- attend two IPVS events annually
- attend the IPVS training program
Independent Prison Visitors must:
- work within operational policies and procedures and maintain confidentiality
- work as part of a team
- communicate effectively with a diverse range of people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions
- exhibit a non-judgmental attitude
- have the capacity to be assertive and set firm boundaries
- complete tasks as agreed
- have good computer and internet skills
- have a level of health and fitness which allows the individual to negotiate the prison facility
- have the capacity to function effectively in a challenging environment
- pass satisfactory reference checks
- pass a satisfactory police criminal record check
- pass a Department of Justice internal screening
All applicants will be required to disclose any criminal offence history, current and past (personal or professional) connection with prisons, the criminal justice system or justice-related groups or programs.
Appointments are subject to a satisfactory police criminal record and prison security check.
Prison management has the authority to accept or deem as unsuitable volunteer candidates who do not satisfy the prison’s internal security check. This assessment/decision will be undertaken in consultation with the OCSR.
All applicants must also declare any conflict of interest to help maintain community trust and confidence in the Independent Prison Visitor Scheme. A conflict of interest can be actual, potential or perceived. This relates to circumstances where the volunteer is or could be directly influenced or where it is perceived the volunteer might be influenced.
Successful applicants will be required to enter into a formal volunteer agreement to abide by the Terms and Conditions of Appointment.
For more information contact the Justice Assurance and Review Office (JARO)(External link)
- Email JARO@justice.vic.gov.au
- Phone 03 8684 6342
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VIC 3001