Children whose parents are imprisoned remain largely invisible and are a highly vulnerable group whose rights and welfare are affected at every stage of criminal proceedings against their parent. In NSW the rights of children of incarcerated parents remain largely unacknowledged within the criminal justice system. Children of prisoners fall through the cracks created by inadequate program funding, ad hoc service provision and a lack of clarity in law and policy as to how best to respond to them and ensure their rights and needs are met.
SHINE for Kids was pleased to provide our submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry: Support for Children of Imprisoned Parents in New South Wales. Our submission draws on almost 40 years of practice, research and advocacy experience on the specific needs of children of prisoners in New South Wales and nationally. Read our submission here.
We acknowledge that despite some positive developments, many of the 97 Recommendations from the 1997 Standing Committee on Social Issues A Report into Children of Imprisoned Parents chaired by SHINE’s late Patron The Hon Ann Symonds AC largely remain unimplemented. 23 years later many of those recommendations are again outlined as significant changes in policies and services for children of prisoners remain unfulfilled despite the good work of many committed individuals within the not for profit sector and government.
In our submission we celebrate programs and initiatives in New South Wales and internationally that support children of prisoners. Recommendations on law reform for incarcerated parents are also made as law reform is an important part of supporting children of prisoners. Reduced incarceration, and greater support for people in contact with the criminal justice system, will improve health, social and economic outcomes of children of prisoners and lead to a safer society for all. Our Top 15 recommendations can be downloaded here.
In April 2021, we were delighted to host the NSW Committee of Children and Young people at our Centres in Goulburn and Windsor. On 30 April, our SHINE Team of Andrew Kew, April Long, Susan Plunkett and Dennis Van Someren were witnesses at the Public Hearing. You can read the transcript from the Public Hearing here.
SHINE For Kids also acknowledges that children of prisoners are not just children of risk but children of promise and we are privileged to walk alongside them as they face their parent’s incarceration with resilience. We acknowledge the hard work of families on the outside including grandparents and carers who struggle to navigate a system that largely ignores them.
SHINE for Kids would be pleased to discuss any aspect of this submission including the programs we currently deliver that aim to reduce the unnecessary hardship, trauma and discrimination faced by children of prisoners because of their parent’s imprisonment. Please contact us on 02 9714 3000 or [email protected]