While some educational and rehabilitative programs offered in gaol and on release can be useful, many suffer from being delivered by people who have little understanding of the effect of life in prison. These programs are also delivered in a context where the client has little control or choice other than to cop it sweet or jack up against the system.
Mentoring, on the other hand, is about building a relationship of mutual trust, friendship and support within which help, advice and assistance can be offered as part of the process of re-building a life after being labeled a criminal and where many barriers actively prevent return to normal life. For both the Mentor and the Mentee this relationship is voluntarily entered into, with this initial willingness and motivation that heightening the chances of creating a beneficial relationship resulting in successful outcomes. With the assistance of a mentoring program, a Mentor assists the Mentee to gain the necessary skills, confidence and direction to overcome life’s obstacles, empowering a Mentee to find and implement their own solutions whilst building a strong, adaptive support network.
The JA Mentoring Project
For some years now Justice Action has been exploring the idea of a 'mentoring project'. The idea behind this is that ex-prisoners are probably the best people to offer support and advice to other prisoners, ex-prisoners and people caught up in the justice system.
At Breakout/Justice Action we have some years of experience in this field to build on. We already provide advice and support to prisoners in prison and have many people working with us on Community Service Orders. We have set up and run half-way houses and we have created long term jobs for some people who have been able to use their experience and knowledge of life after prison to help others. What we now want to do is to build on this with a more structured project for mentoring. This project will aim to provide practical mentoring for people whose lives have been disrupted by jail and the courts. It will also aim to force the justice system to acknowledge this mentoring as a critical part of the processes of rehabilitation/ reintegration of offenders and as a viable part of our campaign for alternatives to prison.
To download the Mentoring Handbook, click here.
Current Mentoring Projects
The Women in Prison Advocacy Network (WIPAN) currently administers a wide ranging mentoring project in which trained mentors assist mentees to gain the necessary skills, confidence and direction to overcome life's obstacles. These mentors provide non-judgmental and respectful social support as the mentee navigates their way back into the community, with 93% of WIPAN mentees staying out of prison after release, compared to 53-57% of the general prison population.
For more information on the WIPAN Mentoring Program, click here.
Claire Seppings Churchill Fellowship Report
Claire Seppings' aspiration to generate reformative change in the criminal justice system is triggered and motivated by her substantial proffessional and lived experience. As a social worker graduate from Melbourne's Monash University in 1984, Claire worked with the Department of Social Security and recently with Centrelink.
Claire seeks to create, develop, establish and evaluate new projects in an attempt to meet her goal of reducing recidivism and community impact. Her newest report outlines some of the main issues facing the criminal justice.
For more information on Claire Seppings Churchill Fellowship Report, click here