The Andrews Labor Government is expanding support services and programs focused on reducing the number of women in prison.
Victoria’s female prisoner population has nearly doubled over the last decade, with the number of Aboriginal women in prison growing at an even faster rate. Two thirds of female prisoners reported being a victim of family violence.
The $14.5 million investment includes more than $5.8 million to provide employment opportunities and reconnect women with their families. As part of this, Women’s Employment Specialists will be introduced in women’s prisons to strengthen employment opportunities for women leaving custody.
This initiative is modelled on the successful Employment Pathways Brokers Program which has provided employment and training support for over 1,000 offenders on supervised orders in the community.
More than $2.7 million will go to improving access to housing including additional housing workers who will provide comprehensive planning and support so women can access sustainable housing when they return to the community.
Reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal women and improving their connections to community is a key focus for the Labor Government.
More than $2.3 million will be invested to expand legal and housing support as well as a feasibility study for a culturally responsive residential diversion program for Aboriginal women similar to the Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place for Aboriginal men.
Other initiatives include the continuation of successful family violence programs for women prisoners and new Practice Advisers to enhance the management of women in prison with complex needs.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Corrections and Crime Prevention Ben Carroll
“The key to reducing offending and protecting community safety is ensuring we address the root causes of crime. That’s why we’re focussing on providing greater support to women involved in the justice system.”
“Women prisoners are less likely to be imprisoned for a serious offence, more likely to spend short periods in custody and most likely to be victims themselves, reporting high rates of sexual abuse and family violence.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gavin Jennings
“This key investment will help Aboriginal women into housing when they leave custody and find employment opportunities – this will help them break the cycle of offending.”
Quote attributable to Women’s Correctional Services Advisory Committee Chair Maree Edwards
“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to providing gender responsive and trauma-informed services to women prisoners to address the causes of their offending and reduce the growing numbers of women in custody.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020