PLS Prison Visit to Townsville Correctional Complex

28 April 2017

Wrap up of our visit to Townsville.

Solicitors Helen and Katrina recently attended the Townsville Correctional Complex as part of our obtained temporary funding to access vulnerable clients in Northern Queensland prisons. The main focus of this visit was to expand the reach of our Safe Way Home project that provides assistance and advice in relation to parole and the surrounding system. Unfortunately, there is always significant misinformation that circulates the prison and as such these visits are vital to enable staff to speak with people face to face to provide accurate information and legal advice. The northern prisons also have a noticeably higher percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who often originate from remote and rural areas, making upwards of 75% of clients that we spoke with. This is an alarming figure when you consider that indigenous people only make up about 2% of our general population.

Further prisoners who suffer from communication barriers (English as a second language, limited literacy or different cultural backgrounds) often struggle in accessing services that explain how the system works and to present their case to the Parole Board. In fact, in some situations our clients are not even aware that they need to apply for parole or write to the Parole Board in response to letters that they receive.

These visits which have been conducted in the last twelve months have been crucial in allowing our service to reach out to highly vulnerable clients who otherwise may not have reached out for the much needed help they require. It has also been a good opportunity to talk with clients generally about general prison issues or to get them in contact with relevant services to help in other matters relating to their rehabilitation and reintegration back into the community. Our service is disappointed that this may be the last round of trips to the northern prisons as we have not been able to obtain further funding for such visits and have suffered further funding cuts on top of this. Prisoners have expressed their concerns that we may not be able to return in the near future, as they have found the visits to be a great source of advice and assistance that they otherwise would not get.

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