Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

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

From Saturday 21 March 2020, Corrections Victoria is suspending all personal visits to adult prisons.

This affects all public and private adult prisons, including the Judy Lazarus Transitional Centre.

While personal visits are suspended, prisoners will have increased access to phone calls. Prisoners and visitors are also encouraged to write letters. 

Personal visits will resume as soon as it’s safe to do so, and we will keep prisoners and visitors updated. 

The importance of visits and community connections for the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners, and for friends and family members is well understood. 

Video-based visits have been implemented in all public and private prisons. Information is provided below to assist visitors to access, set up and receive video calls from prisoners, if they are on the prisoner’s approved visitor list.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency is an evolving situation and this preventative measure will be reviewed on a daily basis.

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

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

Phone

You may not telephone a prisoner directly but you may ask to be added to a prisoner’s approved telephone list so the prisoner can call you. Prisoners can have a maximum of ten people on their approved list at any one time. Telephone calls are limited to 12 minutes per call and may be monitored and recorded for security purposes.

If you are unsure whether you are on a prisoner’s phone list, check with the prisoner during a visit or by mail. Prisons cannot release information about who is on a prisoner’s phone or visitors list (a prisoner’s phone list is not the same as their visitors list).

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

The process for requesting a professional phone call with a prisoner varies from prison to prison.

Video and audio conferencing is available for legal professionals and service providers.

 

Mail

Family and friends can send mail to prisoners. For security reasons, restrictions apply to the types and content of cards and letters that can be sent. These restrictions vary from prison to prison but may include musical cards and attachments and enclosures such as stickers and photographs. If you are unsure, contact the prison for advice. 

If you don’t know where a prisoner is located, you can write to them care of Corrections Victoria and your letter will be forwarded.

All mail (other than exempt official mail, for example from a lawyer or the Victorian Ombudsman) will be checked for contraband (prohibited items). The prison may censor the letter if the content jeopardises the security and good order of the prison or is of a threatening or harassing nature.

Forwarding mail

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

Video-based visits

Video-based visits have been implemented in all publicly and privately managed prisons.

Publicly-managed prisons – Skype

Video-based visits using Skype have been implemented as a temporary option in response to suspension of personal visits for prisoners at the following prison locations:

  • 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
  • Tarrengower Prison

Instructions for visitors on how to access, set up and receive Skype video calls are available.

Privately-managed Port Phillip - Skype

Video-based visits using Skype have been implemented as a temporary option in response to suspension of personal visits for prisoners at Port Phillip Prison.

Instructions for visitors on how to access, set up and receive Skype video calls are available.

Privately-managed Ravenhall and Fulham – BlueJeans

Video-based visits using BlueJeans have been implemented as a temporary option in response to suspension of personal visits for prisoners at Ravenhall Correctional Centre and Fulham Correctional Centre.

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

Technical support for visitors

The Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO) is operating a technical advice and support hotline for visitors who need assistance setting up software for video-based visits.

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

An interpreter service is also available.

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

Email, social media and internet 

As prisoners do not have access to the internet, you cannot communicate with them via online chat or social networking websites such as Facebook or Twitter. The Email a Prisoner service is being introduced to allow family and friends with access to the internet a faster and cheaper way of communicating with family and friends.   

Email a Prisoner is available to family and friends of all prisoners.

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. You will be required to enter your details, along with your bank details. You will be prompted to choose one of the two security checks:
    • An activation link and security code will be sent to both your email address and your residential address. You must respond to both (this takes approximately a week).
    • An activation link and code is sent to your email and you are required to provide two forms of verified identification to UniLink.

You are required to complete the activation steps prior to sending emails.

  1. Once the above is completed you select the prison location and enter the prisoner’s details (first name, surname and CRN). You are then provided with two options:
    • Send an email only
    • Send an email and request a reply.
  2. You can then write your message and have the option of uploading up to four photographs.
  3. The prisoner will be provided with the letter and can respond either via your response form (which will be scanned and sent back to you), letter through Australia Post or on the phone.

Emails will be provided to the prisoner in 2 business days.

Cost

Currently Email a Prisoner is the most cost-effective way for family and friends to send a message to prisoners. It costs $0.90 to send a message and $0.75 to request a reply. In comparison it costs $1.10 to send a letter.

It costs an additional $0.65 per photo uploaded and sent via Email a Prisoner. As such it is more cost effective to send photos via letter.

Sending money, personal property and clothing

Sending money to prisoners

Money for prisoners can no longer be dropped off at prisons. To send money to prisoners, you can:

Prisoners can receive up to $140 per month. You will need to be on the prisoner’s visit list to be able to send money. You must also include the prisoner’s details as well as your own.

Instructions for using Secure Payment Services

  1. Go to www.securepaymentservices.com.au (External link)
  2. Select the button “sign up”
  3. You will be required to enter your details, along with your bank details. You will be prompted to choose one of the two security checks:
    • An activation link and security code will be sent to both your email address and your residential address. You must respond to both (this takes approximately a week).
    • An activation link and code is sent to your email and you are required to provide two forms of verified identification to UniLink.

You are required to complete the activation steps prior to initiating a transaction.

  1. Once the above is completed you select the prison location and enter the prisoner's details (first name, surname and CRN). You select an amount and transfer money directly to the prison location. If you are not on the prisoners visit list your transfer will be returned to you.

Funds will be available to the prisoner 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.

Sending personal property to prisoners

At this point in time, property cannot be dropped off at prisons. Prisons will ensure that prisoners have sufficient clothing. 

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

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

How to locate a prisoner

If you are on the prisoner's approved visitor or phone list, call Corrections Victoria on 03 8684 6600. If you are not on either list, you can contact them by writing to the following address. Corrections Victoria will forward your mail.

Write to: 
(Prisoner's first name and surname)
C/- Corrections Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VIC 3001