These challenges can be compounded by social disadvantage and complex needs related to drug and alcohol use, mental illness, acquired brain injury, homelessness and unemployment.

The Corrections Victoria Reintegration Pathway (CVRP) provides a range of pre-release assessments and a number of pre-and-post release support programs responsive to each prisoner’s transitional needs. Transition work commences upon entry to prison and continues throughout the prisoner’s sentence, in order to influence the greatest possible reintegration outcomes and assist with the eventual process of returning to the community. Post-release support is also available to prisoners who are assessed as requiring more intensive support.

With the objective of reducing risk to the Victorian community, the CVRP targets seven critical domains as the key drivers of effective and successful reintegration:

  • housing
  • employment
  • education and training
  • independent living skills
  • mental health
  • alcohol and drugs
  • family/community connectedness.

 

 

Pre-release programs

Reception Transition Triage Phase

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. During this phase, remand prisoners who identify that they may be discharged from Court will be referred to the Remand Release Assistance Program.

Remand Release Assistance Program (RRAP)(formerly Court Discharge Information Session)

The Remand Release Assistance Program 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, or may receive a Community Correction Order (CCO). A large number of people exit the criminal justice system through direct court discharge, which poses a number of challenges to pre-release transition planning.

The RRAP 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.

Case Planning Transition Phase

For remandees and prisoners serving sentences longer than 12 months, a Case Planning Transition (CPT) assessment is conducted at a later stage. The CPT builds on issues identified in the RTT, by using a Reintegration Assessment tool to further help identify transitional needs, which then supports the assistance and referrals required to be addressed during their sentence. For further information about programs for remandees see information regarding ReStart Program and the Remand Release Assistance Program (RRAP) below.

ReGroup

The aim of the ReGroup phase is to commence planning for the prisoner’s transition back into the community by identifying their reintegration needs (with the use of the Reintegration Assessment tool) and providing them with the necessary targeted supports and referrals to address those needs. This phase is also designed to identify prisoners who may be eligible for more intensive transitional support programs within the CVRP such as ReLink. The ReGroup phase applies to all sentenced prisoners and commences up to 12 months pre-release or immediately on entry for prisoners serving shorter sentences.

 

Targeted pre-release programs

ReLink

Building on ReGroup, a contracted program, ReLink, is run by the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO) 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.

Level One - 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.

Level Two - 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,with regards to 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 also covered in this program.

 

Post-release services

ReConnect provides targeted, intensive (up to 12 months) post-release reintegration outreach support for prisoners assessed as having high level transitional needs, and other eligible priority cohorts. It is designed to provide responsive, tailored and flexible support, and assist with the critical period of transitioning from the prison system, back into the community.

ReConnect is a statewide support program delivered by the following contracted providers who each service different regions:

 Jesuit Social Services (External link),  

Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) (External link),  

Victorian Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO)  (External link)

 

ReStart

ReStart is a support program targeted towards short sentence and remand prisoners assessed as having high reintegration needs, and is delivered by ACSO. ReStart provides three months of post-release intensive, assertive outreach support to promote sustainable links and reintegration back into the community.  By engaging pre-release and developing individualised transition plans, ReStart participants are provided with support and practical assistance by ACSO Restart staff to improve reintegration outcomes upon the transition back into the community setting.

For further information, email corrections@justice.vic.gov.au (External link) or tru@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)

 

Additional programs and services to support the CVRP

ATLAS Remand Program Suite

In recognition of the changing Victorian prisoner profile, in particular the increase in the number of prisoners on remand, Corrections Victoria engaged Relationships Australia Victoria to develop a transition-focused suite of remand programs. The ATLAS Remand Program Suite (referred to as ATLAS) became operational on 3 December 2018 and is delivered by trained Victorian public service employees known as Remand Program Facilitators.

ATLAS is a suite of eight voluntary psycho-educational sessions which provide practical information for adjusting to prison, as well as building capacity to help remandees address their transitional needs in prison and in the community.

Each session is two hours in length and sessions are usually completed within the first eight weeks following a remandee’s reception into custody. Sessions are delivered in a group setting to allow for peer learning, however activities can be completed individually where participants are in protection or management units. All sessions are complementary to one another, however can be delivered on their own based on the needs of the individual.

Participants can self-refer through in-prison program referral processes as well as the Reintegration Pathway’s Reception Transition Triage and Case Planning Transition phases.

ATLAS is available to all remand prisoners at the:

  • Melbourne Assessment Prison
  • Metropolitan Remand Centre
  • Dame Phyllis Frost Centre
  • Barwon Prison
  • Marngoneet Correctional Centre (including Karreenga)
  • Hopkins Correctional Centre.

Reintegration Support Programs

The Reintegration Support Programs are a range of programs which aim to reduce reoffending and reimprisonment by helping individuals and their families to strengthen community ties through welfare-based assistance and support. Some of these programs are funded through ministerial grants (PWCCG), while others are funded through Corrections Victoria (CV).

Pip Wisdom Community Corrections Grants (PWCCG)

The PWCCG commenced in 2004 in honour of Philippa 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 Ministerial grants are provided on a four yearly basis, with the most recent round of grants covering the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2023.

More than $2.6 million in grant funding allows a range of community based organisations to design and deliver specialist programs that support reintegration back into the community.  The Pip Wisdom programs are centred on the provision of programmatic support designed to improve connections with family, community and culture. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) prisoners, and programs which improve a prisoner’s connection with their family are the focus of the current grant cycle. 

Programs and services allocated grant funding 2019 – 2023

Muslim Connect

Delivered by the Islamic Council of Victoria, Muslim Connect provides Muslim prisoners with pre and post release mentoring support as a means of assisting individuals to reintegrate successfully back into the community. While services at different locations may vary, individual prisoner case plans aim to address the unique needs of each client, improve community connectedness and spiritual/ religious support as well as making referrals to Muslim and mainstream services which can provide ongoing support.

Muslim Connect is available for pre-release support at:

  • Port Phillip Prison
  • Marngoneet Correctional Centre (including Karreenga annex)
  • Ravenhall Correctional Centre
  • Metropolitan Remand Centre, Barwon Prison
  • Dame Phyllis Frost Centre
  • Tarrengower Prison
  • Judy Lazarus Transition Centre

Post-release support is available for any prisoner across all Victorian prisons if residing within 40 kilometres of the Melbourne Central Business District upon        release.

Read Along Mums and Dads Program

Delivered by Friends of Castlemaine Library (FOCAL), Read Along Mums and Dads assists prisoners to stay in touch with their children in a meaningful way, by recording individuals in prison reading a book to their child, which is later sent to the family member with a copy of the book so that the child can then listen to their parent's voice and read along. While the program is centred on helping to maintain family connections, additional benefits include improving prisoners’ literacy levels, and improved engagement in writing and craft activities.

Read Along Mums and Dads is available at the Loddon Prison Precinct (including Middleton)  and Tarrengower Prison.

African Visitation and Mentoring Program (AVAMP)

Delivered by Jesuit Social Services (JSS), the AVAMP is available to prisoners who are of African background and provides mentoring and visitation supports to prisoners and offenders who are on Parole or a Community Corrections Imprisonment Order (CCO-IMP). Trained community volunteers engage prisoners and offenders to promote and strengthen community reintegration through the provision of practical and culturally responsive services and information. Limited brief intervention case management is also available for offenders and their families who have unmet needs.

AVAMP is available for pre-release support at:

  • Port Phillip Prison
  • Metropolitan Remand Centre
  • Melbourne Assessment Prison
  • Barwon Prison
  • Marngoneet Correctional Centre (including Karreenga)
  • Dame Phyllis Frost Centre

Post-release support is available for offenders residing in the North West Metropolitan Region only.

Fun With Mum and Craft & Cooking Programs

Delivered by Prison Network, the Fun with Mum Program provides purposeful, positive, engaging diversionary activities for children visiting a parent in prison in an informal, non-intrusive, supportive manner to ensure that the visit and interaction is fun and positive. Transport assistance for children who would otherwise be unable to visit their parent in custody can also be provided.

Also delivered by Prison Network, the Craft & Cooking Program provides interactive and practical sessions to teach and reinforce life skills through meal preparation and craft activities designed to boost participant self-esteem and self-worth.

Both Programs are available at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower Prison.

Prison In-Visits Program and Supported Children’s Transport Program

Delivered by SHINE for Kids, the Prison In-Visits Program provides purposeful, positive, engaging diversionary activities for children visiting a parent in prison. Program staff and volunteers facilitate unstructured art and craft activities to provide prisoners with a way to engage with their children in an informal manner. Children and prisoners participate in the activities together, and are provided with non-intrusive support to ensure that their participation is fun and positive.

Also delivered by SHINE for Kids, the Supported Children's Transport Program provides assistance to children who would otherwise be unable to visit their parent in custody due to transportation or related issues.

Both Programs are available at Barwon Prison, Metropolitan Remand Centre and Marngoneet Correctional Centre (including Kareenga).

Parent and Family Program (PaF)

Delivered by the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO), the PaF seeks to improve family connectedness through trauma-informed practice that aims to empower parents to make positive changes and potentially change the outcomes for their children. PaF includes various activities for prisoners who are parents and involves children, young people, partners, caregivers and extended family members. Should family contact be deemed inappropriate, the PaF program will provide individual support sessions to the incarcerated parent with the aim of addressing the impact of parental incarceration.

PaF is available at Tarrengower Prison and the Judy Lazarus Transition Centre to prisoners who are parents.

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.

A literature review of Supported housing for prisoners returning to the community reviews current literature on approaches to delivering housing support for prisoners returning to the community.

Further information about the Corrections Victoria Housing Program can be obtained by contacting the Program Coordinator at cvhousing@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)