FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the mission, vision and values of Prison Network?
Prison Network’s vision is for dignity, hope and purpose for women in and beyond prison. We do this by journeying with women in and beyond prison, providing the support and courage they need to navigate positive pathways and create change.
We start with acceptance
We engage unconditionally
We make connections that transition from the inside to the outside
We value family and community ties
We fill the gaps
We are here while you need us
We are driven by our faith
What Volunteer Opportunities may be available?
Program Volunteer: Craft, Fun with Mum, Discussion Groups, Game on Day, Sunday Live.
Professional Services: IT Support, Videography, Photography, Social Media.
One-Off Volunteers: Fun with Mum packing Days, Christmas Hamper Packing Days, Bunnings BBQ Fundraisers, Trivia Night and other Fundraiser Events
Lived Experience Volunteers: Focus Groups, Speaking Engagements, Fundraiser Events.
This gives an overview of what opportunities may be available.
What commitment is required?
It will depend on what team you join. For our in-prison programs:
Dame Phyllis Frost Centre
- Mid-week craft programs (Tuesday or Thursday 2pm – 5:30pm) is a weekly commitment.
- Fun with Mum program (Sunday 12:30pm – 4:30pm) is a monthly commitment.
- Game on Day – Sports Program (Saturday 9:30am – 2pm) is every 4 – 6 weeks.
- Friday Night Craft (6:45pm – 9:30pm) is a monthly commitment.
Other programs such as Christian Discussion Group, Sunday Live and Fitness are run by our staff members and senior volunteers and currently have no positions available. Outside of the program all volunteers commit to attending our annual training session (may be over zoom) and is approximately 2 hours and usually in August. Any other additional training required by the prison or by Prison Network for instance Child Safety Training or a Prison Induction may be required. Other opportunities to help for example fundraising are optional.
What exactly do volunteers do?
What individual volunteers do will depend on the team they join.
If it is a craft program you may:
- Help with set up of the craft room.
- Assist the women and or children with their craft.
- Support and encourage the women in a warm and friendly manner.
- Help with clean up at the end of the program.
If it is a sport program you may:
- Play a variety of sports with the women like: netball, soccer, basketball, volleyball.
- Help facilitate days like “Survivor” and Minute to Win It”.
- Demonstrate good teamwork and encourage the women as they participate.
Where are the programs held?
Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC) is located at 101-201 Riding Boundary Rd, Ravenhall Victoria. It is 30 minutes West of the CBD.
Tarrengower Prison is located at 9 Maldon-Shelbourne Rd, Nuggetty Victoria. It is 1 hour 40 minutes North West of the CBD and close to the town of Maldon.
Is Car Pooling available?
Car Pooling is not always an option as our volunteers are from many different locations. We try our best to help coordinate carpooling options, but this is not always possible. Public Transport options are limited too. It is best if our volunteers have the ability to drive to and from the Prison.
Who participates in the programs?
Our programs are available to all women in Prison should they wish to attend. Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC)is a maximum-security prison so our volunteers are working with women who are serving light sentences through to heavier sentences. Tarrengower Prison is a minimum-security prison so our programs there serve women who are lower risk to the community.
What if I have a criminal record?
Due to the requirements of Corrections Victoria you will not be approved to volunteer with our in-prison programs if you have a criminal record. There may be opportunities however in volunteering with Prison Network outside the prisons.
Do I need to be crafty/sporty or have experience?
We value any knowledge or experience that you may bring to volunteering with Prison Network. You do not however have to be crafty to be useful in any of our craft programs. Volunteers do need to have the ability to demonstrate effective active listening skills and the ability to exercise self-awareness.
In our sport program called Game on Day you do need to be physically active and have basic knowledge of the games played. The ability to play a variety of sports is important. You do not need to be an expert, but you do need to be co-ordinated and have the ability to switch easily between various ball games.
Will I be safe?
Prison is a highly governed and secure environment. Our volunteers will always be accompanied by a Prison Officer or by an authorised Senior Staff Member/Volunteer. We work in teams of two or more.
Tell me more about each program and other work Prison Network does?
Dame Phyllis Frost Centre
Craft Program – these are weekly sessions providing a wide range of artistic projects and preparation of various snacks and treats and are held on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Some examples of craft may be decorating diaries, creating wall hangings, making fleece scarves, decorating photo frames, cooking and assembling rocky road, lemon slice, apple pies and decorating Christmas cakes. These are just a few of the many activities that may be offered.
Fun with Mum – provides interactive activities for children and their mothers when visiting with the aim of sustaining or re-developing healthy mother/child relationships. Child friendly crafts along with games for a wide variety of age groups are provided during the child only visits with their mum.
Fitness Training – weekly strength and fitness activities catering for all abilities from the first timer to the more experienced. This is conducted by our trained and highly skilled Support Worker.
Christian Discussion Group – weekly sessions where a range of living skill topics are discussed based on Biblical principles. This group provides a forum for women to discuss and explore their values, priorities and the person they wish to become in a positive, accepting environment.
Game on Day – Every 4 – 6 weeks on a Saturday Prison Network brings a team of sports women to play a variety of sport and fun games with the women. Some games may be netball, volleyball, soccer and themed days like ‘Minute to Win it’ or ‘Survivor’.
Remand Support & General Visits by our Support Workers – introduces women in prison to the work and in-prison programs delivered by Prison Network and provides referrals, court support and general counselling as requested.
Various other projects – Each year Prison Network helps put on a Christmas Party for the women and also provides each woman in prison with a Christmas gift assembled by our volunteers.
Christian Discussion Group – fortnightly sessions where a range of topics are discussed based on Biblical principles. This group provides a forum for women to discuss and explore their values, priorities and the person they wish to become in a positive, accepting environment.
Craft – fortnightly sessions providing a wide range of artistic projects & preparation of various snacks and treats and are held on a Friday Evenings. Some examples of craft may be decorating diaries, motivational wall hangings, making fleece scarves, decorating photo frames, cooking and assembling rocky road, lemon slice, apple pies and decorating Christmas cakes. These are just a few of the many activities that may be offered.
Post -Release Work
- Court Support (by staff members)
- One-on-One and Crisis Support (by staff members and some senior volunteers)
- Outside Discussion Group (weekly small group gathering)
- Recovery Group (weekly support group over zoom)
- Sponsoring and transporting children to holiday camps
- Connecting women and families to local churches and community groups (if they request)
- Fundraising and Promotional Events
- Speaking Engagements (invite our CEO or staff members to come speak at your event)
Can I join on trial basis? What if I find it is not for me?
New volunteers will have a probationary period of three months for weekly volunteers and six months for monthly volunteers to ensure they are well suited to the work and the team. During this time, volunteers may meet with the Volunteer Manager for encouragement, training and issue(s) resolution if necessary. We ask volunteers to make a minimum commitment of 12 months.