Victorian SHINE for Kids programs help invisible victims of crime – children of prisoners
17 March 2010
Professor David de Kretser AC, Governor of Victoria, today officially launched SHINE for Kids Victoria, a not-for-profit charity that helps children and young people with a parent in the criminal justice system to overcome social and educational barriers and realise their individual potential.
Founded in 1982 in NSW, SHINE for Kids provides support to build resilient, well developed children who are less likely to grow up to repeat the offending behaviour of their parents.
“In Victoria there are few structures in place specifically targeted to meet the needs of children with parent in the criminal justice system. And yet an estimated 12,000 young Victorians experience the cycle of trauma, isolation and disadvantage each year,” said SHINE for Kids Chairman Helen Wiseman.
Held at the Phoenix Youth Centre in Footscray, the launch marks the first anniversary of SHINE for Kids providing services targeting children in Victoria with a parent in the criminal justice system.
Currently SHINE for Kids operates two programs in Victoria. The Prison Invisits Program is simple yet powerful, providing an environment for children and families to undertake activities such as painting, drawing, and playing with toys during prison visits with the support of early childhood workers and trained volunteers. This program focuses on strengthening the bond between imprisoned parent and child. The program is currently running at HM Prison Barwon, a men's prison near Geelong, and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, a women’s prison in Melbourne’s west.
The other project is the SKY Program, a collaboration with VACRO (Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Prisoners) and the RE Ross Trust, which matches children of prisoners with trained adult mentors who provide much-needed, consistent adult guidance and support. The program also includes counselling provided by VACRO.
Research consistently reports that children may experience a range of problems during parental imprisonment including: depression, hyperactivity, aggressive or clinging behaviour, withdrawal, sleep problems, eating problems, truancy, which can contribute to poor school grades and delinquency.
“These children often feel shame, and sometimes a sense of responsibility, for the crime their parent has committed,” said SHINE for Kids CEO Gloria Larman. “Their lives are turned upside down; the financial stresses on the family are severe. The children can end up in care, especially with more and more women now being incarcerated.
“Without support, the social and psychological problems these kids experience, and their consequent behaviour changes, may worsen,” she added.
At the launch, 18-year-old Jamielee Chater, who participated in the SHINE for Kids Mentoring program in NSW for six years, spoke movingly about the positive effect the program had on her life.
“My mum left when I was a baby, and my dad was sent to prison when I was twelve. I was ashamed and afraid, and though Nan took us in, I had to move three hours away from friends to a new school.
“My SHINE for Kids mentors have made me feel like I’m not alone and helped me talk through my problems. With their support, I feel I’ve achieved a lot in my life.”
Jamielee has recently graduated from high school and is in full-time employment.
Victorian Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary also spoke at the launch, which was MCd by comedian and television presenter Claire Hooper. Rising singing star Dan Sultan, who recently appeared in popular film Bran Nue Dae alongside Geoffrey Rush, provided entertainment for guests.
Over the coming months, SHINE for Kids aims to expand and strengthen the Mentoring Program to full capacity of 20 matches across Victoria, and to expand the Prison Invisits Program into a total of four Victorian prisons.
The organisation would also like to offer its Children’s Supported Transport Service, available in NSW, as frequently children live great distances from the prisons that house their parent and don’t have the financial means or family support to travel.
“SHINE for Kids Victoria is beginning to forge some good partnerships and has had excellent financial and other support from a number of government departments and agencies,” said Ms Larman.
“We also rely on philanthropy and on the many volunteers who support our organisation, and will require even a greater level of support as we expand and support more children with a parent in the criminal justice system. I would encourage anyone interested in supporting our work to visit our website at www.shineforkids.org.au.”
Download full press release including background information and profiles
Media contact for more information or to arrange interviews:
Tricia Kent, Hadsel Grace & Associates
0418 585 154
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