Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

The health and safety of all prisoners, staff and the community remain our top priority.

As of Saturday 21 March 2020, all Victorian prisons suspended personal visits in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Personal visits will resume when Victorian health authorities advise that it is safe to do so.

Prisoners and their families and friends can use postal mail, video calls, phone and email to stay in contact.

If you have any urgent concerns – please contact the relevant prison or call 03 8684 6600.

Please see Our response to coronavirus (COVID-19) page for more information.

The latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website (External link).

Personal contact with a prisoner

If your friend or family member is in prison you can have contact with them in these ways:

  1. postal mail
  2. phone calls
  3. visits (currently only available via video)
  4. email

In many cases, you will need to know which prison they are in. To locate a prisoner within the prison system you can contact them by writing to the below address. Corrections Victoria will forward your mail.

Write to:

[Prisoner's first name and surname]
c/- Corrections Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VICTORIA 3001
AUSTRALIA

If you are on the prisoner's approved visit or phone list, call Corrections Victoria on 03 8684 6600. Instructions on how to get on a prisoner’s approved visit and/or phone lists are below.

If you are a legal professional or service provider phone and video conferencing is available.

Postal mail

If you would like to send mail to your family member or friend address your letter directly to the prison in which they are located. Or you can send your letter to a central point and it will be provided to them. Write to:

[Prisoner's first name and surname]
c/- Corrections Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VICTORIA 3001
AUSTRALIA

There are restrictions on the type of letters that can be sent to prisoners. These can vary from prison to prison but may include musical cards or extras like stickers and photographs.

Contact the specific prison for help on what you can and cannot send.

All mail (other than exempt official mail, for example from a lawyer or the Victorian Ombudsman) will be checked for banned items.

The prison may censor the letter if the content risks the security and good order of the prison or is threatening or harassing.

Forwarded mail

If a prisoner is transferred to another prison or is in hospital for an extended period, their mail will be forwarded to them.

Delays to mail

Australia Post is reporting delays to deliveries due to high volumes and this may affect how long it takes for your mail to arrive. Thanks for your understanding. More information is on the Australia Post website (External link).

Phone calls

Prisoners can make phone calls to family, friends and legal professionals, as well as to other services.

You cannot make a phone call to a prisoner but, if you would like to receive a call, they must add you to their phone list. They have access to instructions and help in how to do this.

Once the prisoner has added you to their phone list, the prison will contact you to confirm your phone number. The prison will also ask you if you agree to receive phone calls from the prisoner.

If you agree you will now be on the prisoner’s phone list.

If you are not on their phone list, you can send them a letter asking them to add you.

Access to phone calls

Prisoners can have a maximum of 10 phone numbers on their phone call list at any one time.

Phone calls are limited to 12 minutes per call and may be monitored and recorded for security purposes.

Prisoners must pay for all phone calls, except calls to the Victorian Ombudsman and the Health Services Commissioner.

Visits

In response to coronavirus (COVID-19) ,video visits have replaced in-person visits and are available at all Victorian prisons.

If you are already on the in-person visit list, you don’t need to do anything. You already have access to video visits. The in-person visit list and video visit list are the same.

When restrictions on contact ends, those who have had video visits will be able to have in-person visits.

Being added to a visit list

To access a visit with your friend or family member you need to be on the visit list. If you were having in-person visits prior to coronavirus (COVID-19) you automatically have access to video visits.

The prisoner must add you to their visit list. They will receive help in how to do this, but they will need the following details about you:

  • full name [first name and surname]
  • date of birth
  • address.

The prisoner will tell you when they have added you to their visit list. You can confirm that you are on their visit list and the prisoner’s location by contacting:

If you are not on a prisoner’s visit list, but would like to be, you can write to them and ask them to add you.

Organising a video visit

All visits are currently being conducted using video calls. To have a video visit with your friend or family member you will need to provide 100 points of identification each time.

Organising a video visit is different at each prison.

Prisons are using either Zoom or BlueJeans.

Zoom

Video visits using Zoom have been implemented at the following prisons:

  • Barwon Prison
  • Beechworth Correctional Centre
  • Dame Phyllis Frost Centre
  • Dhurringile Prison
  • Hopkins Correctional Centre
  • Judy Lazarus Transition Centre
  • Langi Kal Kal Prison
  • Loddon Prison and Middleton Annexe
  • Marngoneet Correctional Centre and Karreenga Annexe
  • Melbourne Assessment Prison
  • Metropolitan Remand Centre
  • Port Phillip Prison
  • Tarrengower Prison

A guide for visitors on how to access, set up and receive Zoom video calls is available.

BlueJeans

Video based visits using BlueJeans have been implemented at the following prisons:

  • Fulham Correctional Centre
  • Ravenhall Correctional Centre

A guide for visitors to access, set up and receive BlueJeans video calls is available.

Help to use video visits

The Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO) is providing technical support to visitors who need assistance in setting up software for video visits.

The service is available from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

An interpreter service is also available.

Contact VACRO on (03) 9605 1980 or email personalvideovisits@vacro.org.au (External link).

Email a Prisoner service

Email a Prisoner is available to the family and friends of prisoners at all Victorian prisons.

You will need to know the location of the prisoner you want to email. You can find their location by writing to them at:

[Prisoner’s first name and surname]
c/- Corrections Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VICTORIA 3001
AUSTRALIA

Or by phoning (03) 8684 6600.

Setting up to use the Email a Prisoner service

The steps below provide instructions on how to use Email a Prisoner:

  1. Go to www.emailaprisoner.com.au (External link)
  2. Select the button “sign up”
  3. Follow the instructions on the site.

Emails will be provided to the prisoner within two business days.

Cost

It is cheaper to email a prisoner than to send a letter. Sending a letter costs $1.10. However, if you want to attach a photo too, it is cheaper to send through the postal mail.

  • Send an email: $0.90
  • Request a reply: $0.75
  • Attach a photo: $0.65

Sending money

Money for prisoners can no longer be dropped off at prisons. You must be on the prisoner’s visitors list to be able to send money.

To send money to prisoners, you can:

When sending a money order or a bank cheque to the prison, you must:

  1. write the prisoner’s full name and CRN (if known) on the front of the envelope
  2. write your own full name and address on the back of the envelope.

Prisoners can receive up to $140 per calendar month. Some prisoners may be eligible for an additional $50 per calendar month for phone calls.

Funds will be available to the prisoner on the following business day.

Cost

Currently, SPS is the most cost-effective way for family and friends (depositors) to transfer funds. Each transfer incurs a 3% processing fee, a 0.77% card payment fee and a processing fee of $0.94.

For example, a $10 transaction would incur an additional fee of $1.32 (total transaction cost for the depositor of $11.32). In comparison a money order would cost a total of $12.10.

Property for prisoners during coronavirus restrictions

Currently, due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, property cannot be dropped off at prisons. This means no parcels or letters can be hand delivered by family or friends to the prison.

Corrections Victoria will provide all prisoners with appropriate clothing and basic toiletries to ease the burden on families.

Special circumstances

Under special circumstances property can be posted to the prisoner. The prisoner must get the permission from the Operations Manager of the prison before the items are posted.

Only people on the prisoner’s visitor list can send items in the post.

The prisoner will need to show why they need these items. The reasons may be:

  • health or medical issues
  • intellectual or psychiatric impairment
  • hearing, sight, physical or speech disabilities
  • an inability to comprehend English
  • age
  • parent of a child in custody
  • new receptions and prisoners in isolation or preventative quarantine units.

The Operations Manager will consider prisoners with special needs.

Prisoners should demonstrate:

  • they need the item
  • they can’t wait until the restrictions have eased
  • they can’t purchase the item at the prison
  • the prison can’t provide an alternative item
  • there is a significant impact if they do not receive the item
  • their family can afford to purchase and send the item.

Acceptable property

Items that can be posted to a prisoner:

  • religious items
  • approved educational and legal material
  • disability aids
  • books.

You cannot send prohibited items such as:

  • drugs or drug paraphernalia and alcohol
  • weapons
  • explosive devices and flammable liquids
  • electronic items, including mobile phones, gaming consoles
  • restricted publications and audio visual material.

Please visit the prison information page for detailed information about individual prisons or contact the prison for further information.

Bans and previous imprisonment or community correction order

If you have previously been banned from visiting a Victorian prison, or have a Corrections Reference Number (CRN)/Person Identification (PID), you may not be permitted to use video visits, even if a prisoner has added you to their in-person/video visits list.

If you would like to visit with a prisoner, you must seek written permission from the prison's general manager and provide the following information:

  1. CRN/PID (if known) or your offences
  2. full name
  3. date of birth
  4. current residential address
  5. name of the prisoner you wish to visit
  6. reason/s you want permission to visit (such as your relationship with the prisoner)

The general manager will review your request and advise you of their decision.

You will have a CRN/PID if you have served a term of imprisonment in Victoria (sentenced or remanded) or have been subject to a Community Correction Order imposed by the court.

Assistance for visitors

The Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO) can help you or the prisoner you are visiting with family and welfare matters. Go to their website for information (External link).