National Children’s Week promotes the rights of children and young people, and to celebrate their capacity to actively contribute to the world around them. Children have a right to be connected with their parent in prison. With prison visits suspended because of COVID-19, children haven’t been able to physically hug their mum or dad for over 6 months.
69% of Carers we surveyed say that their children are not coping.
Who are these children?
They are the invisible victims of crime. Children who have not committed any crime. 77,000 children who should not be punished for the crimes of their parent. Children who are back at school with their friends, who can attend a footy game and play sport at the weekend. Children who like every other child want to hug their mum or dad.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, prisons across Australia have been closed for face to face visits. This was necessary to keep everyone safe.
During this time SHINE for Kids has been working hard to give children the gift of books through its Storytime program. Storytime brings comfort to children through the magic of books and the comfort of hearing their parent’s recorded voice at bedtime.
Children like Maddison
Maddison is almost 4 years old and is becoming really interested in books. She tries reading them over the phone to her Dad, Paul who is in custody at Parklea Correctional Centre. Maddison hasn’t been able to visit her Dad for over 7 months because there are no child and family visits due to COVID-19. SHINE for Kids’ Storytime program is helping alleviate the feelings of anxiety and isolation many children of prisoners like Maddison are feeling.
Paul chose to record the ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ book for Maddison. “Maddison’s favourite colour is blue as is the book and she is starting to read books with rhymes so I will be able to sing this to her and help” he said. Paul sang each page of the book as his voice was recorded. SHINE visited the family to deliver the book, and Maddison was very excited. When she opened the book and turned the pages she heard her Dad’s voice and then looked through the whole book giggling and singing along with her Dad. It was clear that Maddison felt great joy connecting with her Dad’s voice.
While Storytime doesn’t replace a hug from Paul at bedtime, the recorded sound of his voice reading the story is very comforting for Maddison.
Can you help?
There are thousands more children like Maddison that SHINE wants to help stay connected to their mum or dad while they are in custody through our Storytime program.
We desperately need to buy more books for children between the ages of 2 and 10 years. Our partners Dymocks Children’s Charities will generously match your donation in books during National Children’s Week.
Our team in the ACT were interviewed by Speech Pathology Australia Senior Advisor, Justice Mary Woodward. They discuss the unique challenges children in custody face and the ways speech pathologists can better […]