30 August 2021
Our thoughts are with children with a parent in prison and families on the outside who have a loved one in prison. While it is true that COVID-19 does not discriminate, it is accentuating and exacerbating longstanding inequalities in our community, leaving particular groups exposed to heightened vulnerability. Among these groups requiring targeted attention and action are children with a parent in prison.
Visiting restrictions imposed on prisons to prevent the spread of Covid-19 may help protect children from the virus but often have other negative effects. Acknowledging the importance of minimising face-to-face contact for the sake of virus management, we draw attention to the mental health implications of the removal of visiting rights, at this time of heightened anxiety both for children and for their parents.
SHINE for Kids has been informed that virtual visits are not taking place in some prisons in NSW with positive COVID cases. We call on video visits to be prioritised for children with a parent in prison during this time. It is critical to maintain the child parent bond and that children are able to connect with their parent in prison.
Children with a parent in prison experience a deep sense of abandonment when a parent is incarcerated. That sense of abandonment has been amplified by COVID-19 and has lifelong impacts.
“All measures taken which limit visiting or contact must be strictly time-limited and should not exceed the duration of the pandemic. As soon as it is safe for people in custody, prison staff and children, normal visiting procedures should be resumed”, said April Long, National Operations Manager, SHINE for Kids.
Particular thought should be given to the ways we re-introduce face to face contact for younger children and children with a disability, who cannot engage effectively by telephone or through digital contact. SHINE for Kids looks forward to working in collaboration with Corrective Services NSW to ensure this occurs.
SHINE For Kids has developed staying connected packs which families can request. They include Father’s Day packs and letter writing packs.
For all media enquiries, please contact Sophie Zoellner at firstname.lastname@example.org