BY DAVID COLE
“These children are hidden in the community and can feel very isolated and stigmatised.”
– Community mentor project worker Lena Lockett
SHINE for Kids community mentor project worker Lena Lockett says the service supports and works in partnership with children and young people so they can exercise their rights to protection and full participation in family, culture and social life.
“These children are hidden in the community and can feel very isolated and stigmatised,” Ms Lockett said.
“SHINE for Kids assists and supports these children to develop coping mechanisms and provides opportunities for them to support each other.
“The service seeks to address the social, economic and emotional difficulties children face when their mum or dad – or in some cases, both – end up in prison.
“We have been providing this valuable service for the past three decades, but we depend on volunteers and the Goulburn office is currently recruiting supportive, inspiring adults to help out.”
Ms Lockett said SHINE for Kids was formed in 1982 by a group of people interested in supporting children of prisoners. Initially staffed solely by volunteers, the organisation was incorporated in 1991 and has built up its programs over the period to now employ a dedicated and child-focussed staff of 26, supported by a team of 130 volunteers.
It is estimated there are more than 15,000 children in NSW alone who have a primary carer or parent in full-time custody. These children are six times more likely to experience incarceration themselves.
Ms Lockett said SHINE for Kids runs four programs in Goulburn. These are the: Education Program, where children receive in-school support on a weekly basis; Mentoring Program, which provides support for children and young people by providing a positive, consistent role model for them. They also run an Invisits Program, and a Carers Program.
Ms Lockett says all SHINE for Kids volunteers need to have a Working with Children check and a criminal record check conducted by Justice NSW for volunteers working on the Prison Invisits Program. Training is provided and people interested in volunteering can call her on 4821 2317.