I volunteer for SHINE because: I feel like I am giving back to society. I can make a difference to the lives of children’s lives. The positive experience of having fun art experiences within a harsh prison environment means the experience can be much more positive and helps them connect to their parents. I find this very rewarding.

The most rewarding moment: One day I was sitting on the protection side and a girl about 9 years old kept looking over with the man she was with. I went over and let them know about SHINE and that the girl was welcome to participate. She told me that she thought I was police until she saw my visitor pass and asked if I had to go through all the checks to get in. I believe it was her first time in the prison visiting her dada. She was very polite and told me about how she lived on a farm and asked if she could do the next activity. I really felt that the art experience helped her deal with entering NRC for the first time.

The most difficult situation: When I was yelled at by a policewoman and then told off by the senior constable for holding food on my way out of Barwon. I was allowed in without a bag and escorted to the end without a bag and no-one telling me I needed one. It was a shock and made me feel upset when I was there to help.  I didn’t respond very well to the situation and questioned the lady at first. She was angry, thinking I was a visitor.

The most challenging time: When a lady yelled at me “I just want to spend time with me grand kids” when I approached her to let her know about SHINE. I felt uncomfortable talking to the children because she was very aggressive. She was telling the children she could have the art in her room, but we didn’t get her CRN. Most of the women are very friendly and I did not expect this response.

I like helping others because: Doing something that helps children to feel happy in the present and which could have a lasting impact in their future makes me feel like I am making a difference.

*Name has been changed.