Prisoners Aid has been operating as a community organisation in Canberra since 1963. Over the years we have assisted thousands of clients, including detainees, released detainees, families of detainees, and those involved in the court system.
Our key principles are based on natural justice and rehabilitation for detainees 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 detainees; and to
enhance prospects for the rehabilitation of detainees and their reintegration into society.
Our offices are located in the ACT Courts building and in the AMC Visitor Entry Area.
We have experienced staff and volunteers who are able to provide assistance to our clients.
See below for the range of assistance that we can provide to current detainees and their families.
For visitors and families we:
Have a friendly presence in the Visitor Entry Area at the AMC
Offer support for visitors in distress or under pressure – both before and after visits.
Refer visitors to relevant community and government agencies.
Provide assistance to ACT residents and non- ACT residents visiting a family member in the AMC to travel to and from the AMC.
Provide liaison between case managers and detainees’ families.
Supply suitable clothes for visitors who arrive dressed in ways that could be prohibited.
Provide practical support to families by way of Essentials Cards or Food Bank cards. At Christmas time we also offer Christmas hampers.
Assist the children of detainees to take part in after-school activities that the family could not otherwise afford (see below for our Participate Program).
For detainees at the AMC we:
Visit detainees on request, in some cases where there are no other visitors.
Maintain an open phone line from detainees to our office in the Court (maximum call time is 10 minutes).
Assist with communication between detainees and their families.
Negotiate with government agencies on behalf of detainees
Can provide items for detainees when the AMC does not provide them e.g. orthotic shoes, underwear for women, textbooks for college or university courses.
Can mow lawns and tidy yards in rental houses where detainees cannot organise this for themselves.
Can collect property for detainees from the police storage depot in Mitchell.
Can assist with other problems relating to detainees’ property
Obtain copies of birth certificates when these have been issued outside the ACT (the AMC obtains copies only for those born in the ACT).
For released detainees we can:
Assist detainees on release with transport.
Can provide detainees on release with bus tickets, toiletry items, bags for belongings, emergency accommodation etc. At Christmas time we also offer bags of donated food items.
Obtain and issue items as requested by Throughcare.
Book training courses for released detainees to assist with employment
Help obtain or renew driving licences.
In the courts and the community we can:
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.
Provide support for people in distress in a court room – whether accused, victim, witness or family member.
Provide transport home for people acquitted or receiving a non-custodial sentence who lack the necessary funds.
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.