Sisters Inside

Special Circumstances Court (SCC) Program

For 3 years, this program helped divert women charged with minor offences from the prison system. People who were homeless or dealing with mental health/substance abuse issues were eligible to choose this alternative to appearing before a regular magistrate in the Brisbane Magistrates Court. All women appearing before the SCC were offered support to access the services they needed through Sisters Inside workers, instead of being fined or imprisoned. The program was enormously successful, with 96% of the 239 women involved staying out of prison for the duration of the project.

A Place to Call Home Homelessness Prevention Project

This major 18 month national demonstration pilot project assisted women pre- and post-release to access accommodation and support services in Townsville and Brisbane. At the same time, it integrated an Action Research process throughout, which enabled women themselves to actively contribute to development of the Sisters Inside model of service. (Now called Inclusive Support, this model continues to underpin all our programs and services.)

Women’s Transition Program

This program provided support to women exiting prison in obtaining identification, accommodation and transport upon release. The program aimed to reduce the self-harm, deaths, injury from domestic violence and recidivism so common in the days and weeks following release. It also provided support for the women, their children and their wider families during this transition period.

Early Intervention Program (PEEK)

This early intervention program was for mothers in South East Queensland prisons and their children. The program aimed to ensure positive reunification of the family unit, and provided pre- and post-release support. It provided comprehensive services designed to build protective factors and reduce the risk of intergenerational cycles of crime.

Indigenous Arts/Circus Project

The project developed 3 resources using 6 arts-based workshops (across Brisbane and Townsville) for criminalised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. Action Research processes were used to develop children’s workbooks and community education resources for government and non-government workers. These national resources demonstrated how to work with Indigenous women who have been in prison and their children who are and have been affected by domestic and family violence.

Women in Prison Journal

This bi-annual publication allowed academics, government, women in prison, service providers and interested others to publish articles about current trends and research in relation to women and girls in adult and youth prisons. It was distributed nationally and internationally.

WILL (Women Inside Living & Learning) Project

This project aimed to reduce the (high rate of) transmission of the Hepatitis C Virus amongst women prisoners in South East Queensland, and to provide harm minimisation strategies to women with HCV. The need for the program was a result of Sisters Inside research which found that over half the women’s prison population had injected drugs whilst in prison.

Youth Crime Prevention Program

This program enabled a group of young people whose mothers were in prison to participate developing a resource kit. The program was driven by evidence of the high rates of suicide, self-harm, homelessness, substance abuse, school exclusion/suspension and living in violent environments amongst this cohort of young people. The kit addressed issues that were raised for them while their mums were in prison and provided information about (then) organisations that could provide support. The program also included activities to enhance their self-esteem and confidence including canoeing, white water rafting, ropes courses, art workshops and camps.

Crying Walls

This drug and alcohol prevention project was targeted at women prisoners in South East Queensland. It included educating young women in prison about the effects of drug and alcohol use with particular focus on harm minimisation; the social, physical and mental effects of drug and alcohol use (particularly intravenous drug use), and exploration of alternatives to drug and alcohol use.

The Insider Newsletter

This bi-monthly newsletter was written and produced by women prisoners. Workshops were run to help women develop the necessary computer skills. The newsletter provided practical information relevant to women prisoner (e.g. dates of parole sittings) and enabled communication between women in the different prisons in South East Queensland. It was distributed to all women prisoners, and was warmly received.

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