What is a Digital Toolkit and why do we Need to Help One Another to Create One?

Margaret Anderson

Australian Classification Board

Margaret worked 18 years in corrective services (adults and young people) in NSW and the NT. In NSW, she case managed the most “serious offenders”, and determined the legislative/policy direction of corrective services. Margaret’s experiences in the NT were diverse, and one of the best was discovering an Aboriginal cultural awareness program operating in the community and inviting the facilitators to adapt it and run it in the then, Youth Detention Centre in Darwin - this was the first such program, despite all detainees then identifying as ATSI. Other highlights included: obtaining pregnancy advice resource materials, in language, to share with a young detainee; and engaging with Indigenous community and health groups, radio stations, music bands, the Menzies Health Research Institute, and the NT Tobacco Control Advisory Committee to prepare everyone for ‘No Smoking at Holtze’ (the new prison precinct) and having printed the “No joke! Quit the smoke!” t-shirts for inmates (which some are wearing in the documentary film, Prison Songs). Margaret is on the board of Prisoners Aid NSW and has a strong interest in social justice issues. Following 18 years in corrective services, Margaret is now the Director of the Australian Classification Board and is very mindful of how technology and media impacts upon people’s lives. She firmly believes in the need for people to create a “digital toolkit” so that they can use today’s technology to create their identity and culture – especially after prison.

Even though it is 2019, the impact and role of digital technology may not always be considered (in depth) by corrections staff when they are developing pre- and post-release plans and conditional warnings, for inmates about to leave prison to return to community living. The obvious may be considered, eg: do not ring your ex-partner, or you will breach your parole conditions, but the positive way mobile phones and other digital technology can feature in the life of someone returning to community living, may be overlooked, and it may not be discussed at all with Aunty or Uncle, even though they will be pivotal in the life of the ex-prisoner in the community, and even though digital media and communications devices are prevalent in communities. Different forms of digital technology are with us – even in the remoter parts of Australia!

This session will explore how digital technology does not always have to be negative, and ways in which it may be embraced and harnessed to maximise opportunities for successful community reintegration after prison, in terms of both identity, health and well-being, and culture. How to create a “digital toolkit” and who should be involved in creating it, will be explored. This is a participatory session – come along with your ideas and experiences, and share!