BOWS (Building On Women’s Strengths) Program – inside and outside prisons in SEQ & NQ
The majority of women prisoners were sole parents of dependent children before imprisonment. Sisters Inside has workers in Brisbane and Townsville dedicated to helping mothers in prison maintain their relationship with their children, and supporting family reunification post-release. Whilst mum is in prison, our workers help arrange contact with their children (e.g. through bringing the children to the prison for visits, or negotiating with child safety authorities). We support mothers as they plan for release to ensure that their children’s practical and emotional needs will be met. Following release, our BOWS Workers provide intensive support for women and children in rebuilding their lives after the trauma of prison. This includes activities to help women and their children to reconnect and build on their strengths as mother and child, including camps. We continue to support mothers for as long as they want it.
Child and Parenting Support (CaPS) – outside prison in SEQ
Children are often traumatised by the process of arrest and/or enforced separation when mum went to prison: as a result, many develop difficult behaviours and are harder to parent following their mother’s release from prison. Some children are taken into care when their mother goes to prison, and their mum needs to learn about dealing with the child protection system and/or non-residential parenting. Our CaPS Worker provides intensive support, often in their own home, to a small number of women wanting help to improve their parenting skills and/or respond more effectively to their children. We also run parenting education and peer support groups (with child care provided).
Youth (Violence Prevention) Program – inside prison in Townsville
Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young people and children is often the result of an intergenerational cycle (driven by colonisation and racism). This program aims to break this cycle through violence prevention activities, education and support with those affected by criminalisation and family violence. Our Children’s Worker coordinates a playgroup for women and children inside the TWCC.
(The program also employs a Youth Worker who coordinates an art group for First Nations young women, a sport/dance group for young Aboriginal men and a dance group for young Torres Strait Islander men.) Both workers also provide individual information and support to participants outside group activities.