Our key principles are based on natural justice for the prisoner and on rehabilitation in order to reduce the risk of further offending. Our twin objectives are to:
• ensure a ‘fair go’ for all those involved directly and indirectly in the prison system, including the families of prisoners: and
• enhance prospects for the rehabilitation of prisoners and their reintegration into society.
We remain the only community organisation in the ACT devoted solely to support for prisoners, released prisoners and their families.
Prisoners Aid has an office in the new ACT Courts building and an office in the Visitor Entry Area at the AMC. We have about 20 active volunteers who perform various tasks, including direct assistance to clients and administrative duties.
The range of assistance provided by Prisoners Aid is very wide. We undertake tasks that no other organisation does, whether community or government, as well as tasks that complement and assist the work of other organisations.
Visitors and Families
In relation to visitors and families we:
1. maintain a friendly presence in the Visitor Entry Area at AMC e.g. to welcome first-time visitors and assist them in filling out necessary forms;
2. offer support for visitors in distress or under pressure – both before and after visits.
3. refer visitors to relevant community and government agencies.
4. can provide assist ACT residents visiting a family member get to and from the AMC
5. can provide assistance non-ACT residents visiting a family member to travel to and from the AMC
6. provide liaison between case managers and prisoners’ families.
7. supply suitable clothes for visitors who arrive dressed in ways that are prohibited.
8. provide practical support to families by way of Essentials Cards or Food Bank cards. At Christmas time we also offer families bags of donated food items.
9. assist the children of prisoners to take part in after-school activities that the family could not otherwise afford (our Participate Program).
In relation to prisoners we:
1. visit prisoners on request, in some cases where there are no other visitors.
2. maintain an open phone line from prisoners to the Prisoners Aid office in Civic (maximum call time is 10 minutes).
3. assist with communication between prisoners and their families.
4. negotiate with government agencies on behalf of prisoners
5. can provide items for prisoners when the AMC does not provide them e.g. orthotic shoes, underwear for women, textbooks for college or university courses.
6. can mow lawns and tidy yards in rental houses where prisoners cannot organise this for themselves.
7. can collect property for prisoners from the police storage depot in Mitchell.
8. can assist with other problems relating to prisoners’ property
9. obtain copies of birth certificates when these have been issued outside the ACT (the AMC obtains copies only for those born in the ACT).
In relation to released prisoners we:
1. can assist prisoners on release with transport.
2. can provide prisoners on release with bus tickets, toiletry items, bags for belongings, emergency accommodation etc. At Christmas time we also offer bags of donated food items.
3. obtain and issue items as requested by Throughcare.
4. can book training courses for released prisoners to assist with employment
5. can help obtain or renew driving licences.
The Courts and the Community
In relation the Courts and the Community we can:
1. assist after sentencing by providing transport for a person ordered by the court to attend a rehabilitation centre in NSW or a mental health facility in Canberra.
2. provide support for people in distress in a court room – whether accused, victim, witness or family member.
3. provide transport home for people acquitted or receiving a non-custodial sentence who lack the necessary funds.
4. assist ACT residents to visit family members held in prisons in NSW or further afield.
Participate is a program run by Prisoners Aid ACT to support children and young people with a family member in prison to take up after-school activities of their choice. The activity can be a sport, music, arts, public speaking, or others of interest to the child. Participate can help enrolling the child to the activity and pay for related expenses subject to our budget.
The CARS Office:
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-12:30pm
Phone: (02) 6257 4866
Location: Gnd Fl, ACT Magistrates Court, Knowles Pl, Canberra, ACT 2601
Mail to: GPO Box 112, Canberra ACT 2601