Anti-Violence Program (inside prison) – Almost every woman prisoner has lived with violence, and often this has contributed to her imprisonment. In 2019, Sisters Inside received funding to provide counselling and support for women prisoners in NQ with lived experience of violence. Our 2 Anti-Violence Workers mainly provide individual (crisis or longer term) counselling with women prisoners who have experienced domestic and family violence and/or sexual assault, or related issues arising from imprisonment. The program also occasionally runs educational and support groups about violence with women prisoners.
Supreme Court Bail (SCB) Support Program (inside prison) – Approximately 40% of all women prisoners in Queensland are on remand, with many being refused bail due to homelessness or lack of community mental health services. Previously an unfunded Sisters Inside program in SEQ, since 2016 we have been funded to provide this program in NQ. Our SCB Worker interviews women in prison in NQ to assess their eligibility for Supreme Court Bail and supports eligible women to make application to the court. Other Sisters Inside workers often help women to make arrangements to apply for bail (e.g. access to housing or health services) and offer support following release. Since 2003, the program has had a 100% success rate amongst eligible women.
Parole Support (inside prison) – Many women stay in prison beyond their parole date. This statewide service supports women prisoners in relation to parole and sentencing matters. Established in 2019, the service ensures that women can address their post-release needs whilst in prison; leave prison as soon as possible; and successfully stay out of prison following release. This includes helping women to navigate the corrections system – assisting with their parole applications, arranging accommodation and other essentials for getting parole, advocating directly with the Parole Board, explaining the parole process to women, and helping women follow up parole applications or rejections. We also support women who breach parole and respond to parole suspensions. This service is offered by phone from Brisbane, or through other Sisters Inside program workers in Townsville.
Next Step Home Program (inside & out) – Too many women end up returning to prison due to homelessness. Since 2018, this pilot program has supported eligible women prisoners to move straight into secure housing when released from prison. 15 head-leases are provided by the housing department each year, and priority is given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women being released on parole. Our NSH Workers support eligible women prisoners to apply for this housing; maintain their tenancy for a year; and arrange ongoing independent tenancy after the initial 12 months. We also support other criminalised women in NQ to find housing.
Health Support Program (outside prison) – Criminalised women have poorer health than women in the general community, with many living with chronic health conditions and complex health needs. Our HSP Workers offer support to improve the health and wellbeing of criminalised women and their children. We work alongside women to identify their health needs; provide referral to medical, mental health and drug and alcohol services and practitioners; and provide the practical support they need to attend appointments (e.g. transport). We also support women to improve their social and emotional wellbeing (e.g. assistance with housing, employment or income support). The HSP particularly focuses on supporting women in the first month after their release, and working with women with complex health needs. Since 2017, we have had 2 HSP Workers based in Townsville covering NQ and, when resources allow, providing outreach to women in CQ and FNQ.
Building On Women’s Strengths Program (inside & out) – The majority of women prisoners were sole parents of dependent children before imprisonment. Our 2 BOWs Workers in NQ are dedicated to helping mothers in prison maintain their relationship with their children, and supporting family reunification post-release. Whilst mum is in prison, we help arrange contact with their children (e.g. through bringing the children to the prison for visits, or negotiating with child safety authorities). We support mothers as they plan for release to ensure that their children’s practical and emotional needs will be met. Following release, our BOWS Workers provide intensive support for women and children in rebuilding their lives after the trauma of prison. This includes activities to help women and their children to reconnect and build on their strengths as mother and child (e.g. holiday programs or camps). We continue to support mothers for as long as they wish.
Violence Prevention Program (inside & out) – Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young people and children is often the result of an intergenerational cycle (driven by colonisation and racism). This program aims to break this cycle through violence prevention activities, education and support with those affected by criminalisation and family violence. Our full time Youth Worker coordinates an art group for First Nations young women, a sport/dance group for young Aboriginal men and a dance group for young Torres Strait Islander men. Our part time Children’s Worker coordinates a playgroup for women and children inside the TWCC. Both workers also provide individual information and support to participants outside group activities.
View our other Programs & Services
For Mums & Kids
For Young People
How can you help?
The Sisters Inside Fund for Children supports children of women in the criminal justice system to choose their own future free of the burdens so commonly felt while their mother is in prison.
#Free Her Campaign
This campaign has been set up by Debbie Kilroy, CEO of Sisters Inside Inc. The funds raised will be used to release people from prison and pay warrants so they are not imprisoned.