Family connections in a digital world
In 2017, Corrections Victoria (CV) undertook a pilot program with women prisoners and their children at Tarrengower Correctional Centre. The Family Video Visits Pilot enables mothers in custodial care at Tarrengower to have fortnightly video visits with their children at their home of residence, using Jabberguest software which was already utilised by CV for telecourt appointments. VACRO collaborated with CV, providing funding through philanthropy and a dedicated Support Worker, to facilitate and maintain the program.
This pilot program feeds into CV’s Reintegration Pathway by preparing mothers to return to their parenting role post-release, and preparing children for the parent’s re-entry into the home. It also provides an opportunity for families unable to visit the prison to have a greater level of personal interaction beyond telephone calls. This program was devised in response to considerable academic and empirical research that suggests family connectedness is a critical protective factor for recidivism post-release, and that frequent and regular contact with the incarcerated parent is beneficial to the child’s wellbeing.
This paper will outline the model including the critical factor of collaboration between Corrections Victoria and a community organisation and highlight the key outcomes established though evaluation.
“The video visits allowed my eldest daughter to open up about how she was struggling, she couldn’t do it in the visit centre and I couldn’t’ ‘read’ her properly on the phone.”
Victorian Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders
Video Visits Coordinator
While completing her psychology degree, Imogen worked on building her experiences working with vulnerable children. This included integration aide work in special development schools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Justice Support at a Red Cross visit centre for children of prisoners. She came to VACRO in 2017 to commence the implementation of the digital Video Visits program.