Who we are
Prison Network is a Christian non profit organisation which has been providing support to women in Victorian prisons, and their families, for over 75 years.
Prison Network journeys with women in and beyond prison, providing the support and courage they need to navigate positive pathways and create change.
For women who have often experienced life long hardship Prison Network aims to be a source of hope, dignity and purpose, and to ultimately reduce recidivism and inter-generational cycles of criminal activity and poverty.
In 1946, Prison Network founder, Myrtle Breen, approached Pentridge Prison requesting permission to visit the female prisoners. Myrtle, and later Marj Swales and others, built a strong foundation of providing ongoing support and care for women in prison.
Marj Swales dedicated 30 years of service to Prison Network and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2007 in recognition of her contribution.
Prison Network, with the dedicated work of staff and volunteers, continues the legacy of care and support for some of Victoria’s most marginalised women and their families.
Amelia is an impassioned change-maker with decades of experience in the NFP sector. Her avidity for leadership, academia and social justice have underpinned her broad and wide-ranging career, from executive roles in education and social enterprise to holistic grass roots program design and delivery across Africa and Australia. For the past five years, her focus has been NFP capacity building through impact evaluation frameworks and mobilising capital for large-scale medical health research and translation programs in Aboriginal communities. She holds several postgraduate degrees in Research and Social Impact, a MA in Theology and sits on various NFP boards in Australia and Internationally. Amelia joined the team of Prison Network in 2020, keen to leverage her skills and experience to strengthen and broaden the impact and scope of its already significant long-standing work.
Senior Support Worker
Laurel is passionate about seeing women get back on their feet and reach their full potential. Over 30 years ago she commenced working with young women in the youth justice sector. As a support worker, she worked for a non for profit, with young women who were incarcerated and post release. She has also worked extensively with various agencies including DHHS, supervising and supporting homeless youth in a number of accommodation facilities.
Over time, Laurel found herself increasingly visiting those who ended up in the adult prison system. It soon became obvious to her that there was less support for those in adult correctional facilities than in youth justice. As a result, in 1996, at the commencement of the then new facility, today known as the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Laurel decided to commence full time work with Prison Network. Now Laurel is a very familiar face in Victorian women’s prisons. With a background in counselling and as an Alcohol and other Drugs Practitioner, Laurel uses her skills, experience and expertise to assist women and their families during their time in prison and post release.
Program Manager and Support Worker
Sarah is an outstanding program manager and support worker, who is passionate about supporting families through challenging circumstances. She has been involved with Prison Network for almost 20 years. For the first 17 years she worked in the area of post release, supporting women to rebuild their lives as well as working in programs within prison. She served as a Fun With Mum Coordinator for five years in a volunteer role, and joined staff early 2020.
Sarah has extensive experience in design, implementation and delivery of high-quality program, program resources, events and service projects both at State and National level within the NFP sector. She currently acts in the role of Child Protection officer, and manages our Family related programs, camps, and transportation of children to and from prison.
Andrea joined Prison Network in August 2017 and currently holds the role of Volunteer Manager. With a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and Human Resource Management from Deakin University, Andrea has had a diverse career in both Profit and NFP Sectors. She has many years experience as a Trainer and held a variety of roles in customer relations across a number of industries.
Her passion for Prison Network and the work they do stems from her work as a volunteer with the organisation. She brings a key perspective to the role which ensures a supportive relationship with our large volunteer force.
Jenni was first introduced to the work of Prison Network in 2012 when she joined our Art & Craft team. She joined our staff as Administrator in March 2017, bringing with her many years’ experience in various administration roles, including office management, payroll and bookkeeping. Jenni completed her Certificate III in Hairdressing in 1998 and after gaining experience in regional Victoria and suburban salons, has been running her own hairdressing business since 2006. She is also an active member of Planetshakers Food Relief Centre where she volunteers. Jenni is passionate about people having the opportunity for a second chance in life and not being held back by their past.
Comms and Fundraising Manager
Sally grew up in outback South Australia, eventually making her way to inner city Melbourne. Sally’s experience has been built up through her professional work as an Occupational Therapist, working closely with those whose lives have been impacted by physical loss, impairment or disability; and through her postgraduate studies in Social Science. Sally was CEO of St Kilda Gatehouse for nearly nine years. Gatehouse has traditionally worked alongside those involved in street based sex work as a result of extreme hardship. Sally led the organisation through a sustained period of growth, including opening a second Centre in Dandenong working with young girls and women affected by sexual exploitation. Sally founded a national fundraising campaign with her sister, which ran for five years raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities tackling urban poverty.
Helen has been involved with Prison Network for 38 years and has a passion to share hope and love to those around her. Helen spent many years working with Teen Challenge in St.Kilda in the 80’s which complimented her work within the prison system. She also works as an accounts/administrator for another Not-for-Profit as well as assisting with the Prison Network accounts. Helen is also involved with the ‘Outside Discussion Group’ and assists women post release.
Prison Network relies heavily on the work of many volunteers
who give their time to support the women, families and staff
in a variety of ways.
MSc, DIC, CEng, MICE, FIEA (Retired), FAICD
Bill trained as a civil engineer and travelled the world working in Ireland, UK, Greece, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya, Hong Kong and mainland China on major infrastructure projects. He came to Australia in 1993 to establish the company’s presence and in a short space of time was in charge of East Asia and then the Asia Pacific region for the global company for whom he worked. He was the Banker’s engineer for the City Link Project tunnels and advised the banks funding the project during the construction phase.
During the Asian Financial crisis he was tasked with turning around the company’s fortunes throughout East Asia and then Asia Pacific. During this time he has served on numerous For Profit Boards as Chair and was successful in bringing them back to a sustainable business.
Bill is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has passed the course in Mastering the Boardroom and completed the Advanced Not-for-Profit course on Governance. He has also attended the Senior Managers Course at Cranfield School of Management in the UK.
His voluntary roles have included being a School Governor in UK; on the Board of CBM Australia for nine years, where he was Chair for six years; on the Board of CBM International for six years, where he chaired the Finance and Audit committee and the HR committee; Warden of his Anglican home church for six years; led the Men’s Ministry for seven years at his home church and is currently on the board of CBM Kenya and Chair of Prison Network.
Bill has been married for 46 years, has three adult children and five grandchildren, and attends St Alfred’s Anglican Church in Blackburn North
Jayde is a Chartered Accountant with commercial, financial and risk expertise across the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Her career began in assurance at Grant Thornton Australia. She has also lived in London and New York where she worked in financial and commercial leadership roles with the FTSE-listed company WPP. Jayde is currently leading a variety of operational, strategic and commercialisation projects for not-for-profit organisations in Australia.
Rev Paul Joy
BEd BTeach MDiv MTheol
Paul worked as a teacher for over 25 years at Kilvington Grammar and Methodist Ladies’ College in Kew.. He then served at the remote learning campus near Mallacoota where he was the Chaplain and became Deputy Director and later Director. Currently he works as School Chaplain at Yarra Valley Grammar and has done so for 10 years.
His first encounter with PN was through a connection with one of PNs support workers, and his wife who served on the board for a number of years. Paul brings to the Board of Prison Network a broad range of skills and expertise in organisation and leadership, willingness to pitch in, and MCing and hosting Prison Network Events
Lavinia has worked in the not-for-profit sector for 25 years. Lavinia began her experience as a Youth Worker. After having a family she expanded her experience into the area of fundraising, as a Relationship Manager. Lavinia currently works for an international aid and development organisation. Lavinia has a strong mission’s background having trained and worked in YWAM (Youth With A Mission). She has spent time travelling in Asia & Africa serving the local churches and community organisations. Lavinia has served on a number of Community Boards, most recently Prison Network Board since 2017.
Lavinia has a powerful transformation childhood story which has been captured in a soon to be published book. She’s had the opportunity to share her childhood experiences in various media interviews, as well as in the women’s prison.
David is the youngest son of Myrtle Breen the founder of Prison Network. He joined the board of directors in 2018 just prior to Bill joining the board as chair. David has a strong sense of the vision for community work and understands the dream Myrtle Breen held to empower women.
David has been a board member of River and Ranges Community Leadership a not for profit organisation that predominantly trains community leaders. He was a student board member on the Academic Board during his final year at University of Divinity.
David graduated with Masters in Theological Studies from UD in March 2019 and also holds a Graduate Diploma in Ministry and a Bachelor of Adult and Vocational Teaching. He has a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and in Small Business Management.
David is director and owner of DAKAN Enterprises Pty Ltd a small construction business. He was general manager of Discovery Community Care (Training) for five years and previously employed in the UK in the community education (Expert Patients Program).
Carolyn Clark OAM
Over the last 20 years, Carolyn has served the community through extensive and sustained contributions to multiple organisations on a voluntary basis. Carolyn was recently awarded an Order of Australia Medal for 20 years of voluntary service to women and the community (June 2019). She holds a Master of Laws and has practiced for 10 years as a solicitor both in the private and public sectors, specialising in Corporate Law, with a particular interest in the governance standards applicable to the NFP sector. She has been a director of Sacred Heart Mission since 2009 and both Chairs and is a member of, a number of Sacred Heart Mission Board committees. She is also a director of Melbourne Girls Grammar School, J2SI ELC Ltd and Mind Heart Connect Foundation. Carolyn joined the Board on 15 July 2020.
BEng BSc MSW
Kerryn was working as a Mechanical Engineer in the Oil and Gas Industry when she began volunteering with Prison Network in 2009. Starting in the Art and Craft program at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC) she quickly realised a passion for the work and took any opportunity for further involvement, eventually leaving engineering to pursue a social work qualification.
While re-training, Kerryn taught computers and maths with Kangan Institute across multiple secure facilities – DPFC, Metropolitan Remand Centre, Parkville Youth Justice Precinct and Thomas Embling Hospital. Since completing her Masters in Social Work, Kerryn has worked in the Drug and Alcohol sector, particularly in residential treatment facilities. Kerryn also has experience with DHHS in Child Protection and with the Centre for Innovative Justice. Kerryn was a Senior Support Worker with Prison Network for two years prior to taking on her current role as Executive Officer of Whitehorse Churches Care. Kerryn is also on the Board of Stable One.
Prosper is currently Governance Manager & Company Secretary for special purpose vehicles at AustralianSuper.
He is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (an international body) and Governance Institute of Australia.
Prosper is a seasoned Company Secretary and corporate governance professional with over 25 years’ experience.
Prior to his current role Prosper was Assistant Company Secretary at Me Bank and Deputy Company Secretary at Spotless. Across 12 years Prosper held several governance and accounting roles, including Manager – Head Office Secretariat Operations and Internal Audit Consultant, at AXA. Prosper was also Company Secretary for various subsidiaries of AXA Australia.
Prosper has also previously held various roles in private and public sectors, and International Humanitarian Organisations in Africa.
Prosper is currently Treasurer of African Communities Foundation of Australia Inc. Formerly Finance Officer of the African Leadership and Learning Advocacy Group Inc. He was also one of the Boyzone Leaders where he actively involved in mentoring program for boys (grade 2 – grade 6) in his local community for eight years. Prosper was also a soccer coach for Blackburn New Hope Football Club for four years (2014 – 2018).
Prison Network is a registered charity that believes in working closely with relevant parties to provide women and their families with the care and support they need most. We work with prison staff at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower Prisons to ensure that the services we provide meet the needs of the women in custody. Over the past five years, Prison Network has been the recipient of the following grants:
· Corrections Victoria, through the Pip Wisdom Grant
· Sisters of Charity
· Colliers Trust
· One Community Church
· Mercy Foundation
· Shine On Foundation
· Entrust Foundation
· Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
· Steer Incorporated
· Magistrates Court
Prison Network also relies on the generous support from private donors, churches, businesses and bequests.