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#GravyDay: Today is about more than who will make the gravy, our CEO in The Daily Telegraph

21/12/2023

Our CEO writes in today’s Daily Telegraph.

The unofficial anthem of the Aussie Christmas ‘How To Make Gravy’ tugs at even the toughest of heartstrings. But knowing those lyrics are an all-too-familiar reality for 43,000 kids these holidays is heartbreaking.

As we mark Gravy Day today, I am urging all of us to consider the huge losses suffered by the tens of thousands of Aussie kids who have a parent in prison. These losses don’t just have impacts over the festive season but over their entire lifetime,

Having a parent behind bars is not just about missing out on special occasions and the making of memories. Shocking statistics hammer home how often innocent children are being punished for the crimes of their parents. Children with incarcerated parents are up to six times more likely to end up in prison themselves. They make up 52 per cent of those in youth justice and they are 40 per cent more likely to drop out of school.

Australia spends more than $6 billion a year on the construction and operation of prisons. More than a third of this is spent on imprisoning low-risk, non-violent offenders. Even if we managed to reduce low-risk imprisonment by just one per cent, we could redirect $23 million a year into additional early intervention programs to keep kids out of prison.

For me the most obvious way to achieve this is by supporting the children of prisoners and reducing the likelihood of them following their parents’ path. 

Our goal at Shine For Kids is to provide the support these children need and to break the cycles of intergenerational disadvantage. We work to keep them engaged in school and support them with their goals. 

Parental incarceration is a contributing factor in many other social issues, such as children in out-of-home care, poverty and school absenteeism. We need consistent policy and process to ensure a holistic and considered approach is taken to caring for children with a parent in prison.

We need government-funded programs to address the impact and wider support for families. If we don’t, we run the risk of history repeating itself across generations, time and time again. 

More than of the men and women in our prisons are parents and, for their children, today is about so much more than who is going to make the gravy at Christmas lunch.

It’s about ensuring those children don’t receive a life sentence for the actions of others.

 

Listen to our CEO on radio 2ST:

 

SHINE for Kids have also appeared on 94.1 FM Gold Coast and 2SM radio, raising awareness of this important issue.  

Read our media release

#GravyDay: Today is about more than who will make the gravy, our CEO in The Daily Telegraph

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More than half of the men and women in our prisons are parents and, for their children, today is about so much more than who will make the gravy at Christmas lunch.

Julie Hourigan, SHINE for Kids CEO