worlds t n e r e f if d o w t Living in Juggling a relationship with a partner or family member who is in prison is not easy. Your life has no doubt changed signiﬁcantly. You have to ﬁll all the gaps that this person used to ﬁll. This can be very difﬁcult. Your partner is also experiencing a new and challenging time.
What are they experiencing? Being in prison means that their life has changed dramatically Prison can be an opportunity to engage in services and programs to assist a prisoner, it is also a space where it can feel like privileges and choices are taken away They now have a lot of time on their hands, they may start to overthink things They may feel guilty for how this is impacting you They may have feelings of blame and frustration towards you and/or the justice system Remember, if you take the time to try and understand what they are going through, it can help your relationship and ease the pressure when you see them Visitorâ€™s Information
partner y m r o f Caring orďż˝family member Even though your partner/family member is in prison, it is still important to show them that you care. Prison can make some tasks harder, but showing your partner how much you care about them is still important.
What can I do? Try to think about what makes you feel good in a relationship Do they like it when someone pays them a compliment? Do they appreciate when someone acknowledges something they have done?
artner p y m o t Talking orďż˝family member The ďŹ rst thing to remember about talking to your partner or family member is that they are still the same person. By now, your relationship has been through a few bumps, but if you are able to talk things through it can make a huge difference.
What can I do? Talk about things that interest you both Listen to the other person, let them know you are listening by referencing what they have said when they have ďŹ nished speaking Try to remember things from other conversations youâ€™ve had (for example if they said they were doing something on a particular day, show an interest in this and ask them about it)
nning la p d n a s le u r y il m Fa Some ‘family rules’ are well known and we hear them repeated often, however, some are not discussed. Some are ‘negotiable’ some are ‘absolute’. Expectations and rules can be similar in that if we don’t discuss them, or if we are not aware of them, then when the rules are broken people can be confused as to why other family members get upset. It can be a good idea to put some plans in place for when rules are broken. Putting this into action can depend greatly on the family dynamics and the rules.
What can I do? Putting rules/planning into action can depend greatly on the family dynamics and the rules An example could be coming home drunk or substance affected when there are young children in the home; there could be a family rule in place where this is not ok and then the family could agree to the best actions that could take place in this situation The plan could be as simple as, if you break something in the home, you have to replace it It is important that â€˜agreeing to a planâ€™ be done before the rule has been broken, instead of trying to discuss this when the rule has just been broken Visitorâ€™s Information
tions a t c e p x e Managing in relationships Have you ever failed someone’s expectations before? Has someone failed your expectations? The build-up of failed expectations takes a huge toll on everyone and can often stop the rebuilding or strengthening of relationships. The main reasons relationships suffer breakdown is that expectations aren’t communicated or that the expectation was never reasonable in the ﬁrst place. Visitor’s Information
What can I do? Ask yourself, are the expectations people have of you fair? Or, are the expectations we hold of others, and ourselves, fair? Ask those close to you what they expect from you Talk to your partner and family about what you hope to expect from them
d about Talking to your chil prison and your family member being arrested It is hard to tell your child why their parent or family member is not at home with them, where they are and how long they will be gone. It may seem like a better solution to fabricate a story about their absence. However, research tells us that it is better to tell your child about the arrest and going to prison, rather than to lie about why they are not there. Visitorâ€™s Information
What can I do? Tell your child that their parent/family member has made a bad choice and need to go to prison There is no need to go into details of the arrest, or the charges that have been made against them, however, if an older child asks for more information it is best to be honest Reassure your child that it is not their fault Tell them a bit about prison, so they have a better understanding of what their parent/family member is going through Visitorâ€™s Information
d through how Supporting your chil A family memberâ€™s imprisonment may impact them in their community People in your community, and in your childâ€™s environment, will react differently in response to the news of a family member being in prison. It is important to be aware that although you may not observe anything yourself, they are no doubt dealing with changes in behaviour from friends, class mates and other contacts. Visitorâ€™s Information
What can I do? Speak to your child’s school about the situation so they can observe any issues and report back to you Talk to your child about how other people might respond to the news about their parent being in prison Let them know that they don’t have to talk about their parent’s incarceration with everyone Try to identify a few safe people that your child can talk to about their parent’s incarceration You may be experiencing some of these emotions too, ﬁnd someone safe that you trust who you can talk to about everything that is going on If you feel that you need further assistance with this, please contact your nearest Child FIRST ofﬁce for advice Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) is also available to help support your child
r e ad o t g n i t p Attem a child’s behaviour You are more than likely going to experience changes in your child’s behavior. It is important that you try to not take their reactions and responses too personally. They are experiencing many emotions and they don’t know how to communicate them or deal with them. Their reactions and emotional responses can be big and loud or quiet and withdrawn. When a child is experiencing an overload of emotions there is not one easy solution and often it is about calmly offering a few suggestions and trying to help them to settle down. Visitor’s Information
What can I do? Offer them a hug Ask if they want you to sit with them Ask if they want some time alone If they are unable to calm down, distracting them can sometimes help ie. ask how many blue things are in the room or look around the room for other things they can identify They need to know that emotions can be hard, you could tell them that you struggle with them too and you want to help them work things out No matter what you do, your child needs to know you love them and they are safe Visitorâ€™s Information
hild c r u o y g Preparin for a visit to prison Your child may be worried about visiting prison or may ďŹ nd it scary. It is a good idea to prepare your child for visiting prison. This will help reduce stress levels and eliminate any potential surprises.
What can I do? Let your child know how they will get to the prison Discuss any special things they might have to do (wait in a line, be looked over by guards etc.) Know the rules around visits and talk about these with your child Talk about what their mum/dad will be wearing when they see them Let them know if mum/dad looks different compared to when they last saw him/her Tell them how long the visit goes for Make a plan for how you are going to ďŹ nish up the visit, is there something special you can say to each other or maybe give them a 10 minute warning before they need to leave Remind them that mum/dad canâ€™t come home with them Prior to visiting let your child know that prison environments can sometimes be unpredictable and occasionally visits are cancelled
isiting v n e r d il h C parents in prison It is important that your child see you respect their incarcerated parent. They need to know that you think they are safe with this person and that you trust them. This may be tough, especially if you are not certain that you feel these things towards this person.
What can I do? Your child may feel nervous at ďŹ rst so hold their hand, smile at them, reassure them and support them to help them feel more comfortable Allow the other parent to be the focus for your child Assist with conversation topics if needed (ie. maybe suggest the child tell their parent about a drawing they did etc.)
o keep t d il h c r u o y Supporting in contact with their parent By encouraging your child to maintain contact with their parent in prison, you are beneďŹ ting the child and the incarcerated parent. If you are having difďŹ culties in your relationship with the incarcerated parent it may help to focus your communication about the child/children and what is happening in their lives and not about the prison environment.
What can I do? Encourage or help the child to write a letter or card to their parent Suggest that the child use the portrait card from the Childrenâ€™s Kit to draw a picture of themselves and give to their parent, so they have a memento that they can touch and hold Use the tips outlined in this kit to help your child build/maintain a relationship with their parent
Translating prison language When you enter the prison community for the ďŹ rst time, there are often a lot of words and phrases that you will not have come across before. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of these terms, so you have a better understanding of what is happening to your partner, or to enable you to ask questions of prison staff.
Earliest Eligibility Date
Earliest Discharge Date
Corrections Reference Number
Assessment and Transition Coordinator
Offender Services Manager
Adult Parole Board