Our stories

Seven year old Len* loves visiting his dad, with a little support from SHINE

Every weekend, Ben*, 12, Sharee*, 10* and Len*, 7, travel with their mum to Bathurst from Sydney to visit dad in custody at Bathurst Correctional Centre.

The family have a strong connection and the five-hour round trip, while tiring, is a vital part of their week.

Our team are there to greet the family as they arrive for their RAT test and to drop by our centre for mum to rest and the kids to have a stretch and chance to move about before heading into the visit.

Alicia from SHINE for Kids says that she can see why this drive is so crucial to the family as they are very close, happily colouring in, playing and chatting together at our centre.

As she’s gotten to know the children better, Alicia has spent time preparing special activities that match their interests and has formed a trusting relationship with each family member.

During one of the visits, Len was sitting with Alicia waiting to go through security, when he pointed to a sign about objects that can’t be brought in and then to the metal detector and said, “I don’t like those.”

Alicia said comments like that “show how vulnerable the children are but also how brave and strong they are, and how important it is to make their visits with dad fun and engaging.”

Visiting a correctional centre is daunting for adults, so it can be a very unsettling experience for children.

Seeing their parent in a strange uniform in a sterile and intimidating room surrounded by heavy locked gates is scary.

Often kids express how they wish that they could all go home together, and worry about their parent left behind.

Our team strive to ensure that as many aspects as possible surrounding and during the visit are made child-friendly and that visits are child-focussed.

Providing games and activities, creating comforting spaces like our centres, and being a friendly, familiar face, all ease children’s anxiety about the day and help them to enjoy their precious family time together and feel that their family is going to be okay.

Alicia was thrilled to receive a little token showing how much she is appreciated when Len came running over one visit to give her a special drawing he’d made for her, excitedly waiting while she unfolded the picture to reveal a heart saying “I Love You”.

Knowing the family made the expensive drive each week to see dad and were struggling with the increased cost of fuel and groceries, Alicia arranged a surprise for mum one week and gifted her a donated Coles voucher and some activity packs with pencils and games for the kids as well.

Mum was very grateful, and the whole family left especially happy that week!

Please donate today and help us provide comfort and relief to children and families visiting loved ones.

Thank you to Bathurst RSL for supporting families with our Centre and Programs at Bathurst Correctional Centre. 

A special drawing of thanks:

Seven year old Len* loves visiting his dad, with a little support from SHINE

Other stories