Corrections Victoria operates the mothers and children program which enables children to reside with their mothers whilst in prison. In particular instances it may be in a child's best interests to reside with their mother in prison during a period of incarceration. This may be true of an infant or young child.
As part of its assessment of applications from incarcerated mothers to have their children with them in prison under the program, Corrections Victoria may require information from child protection in relation to current or former clients. See Mothers and children in prison protocol.
The assessment information sought by Corrections Victoria from child protection relating to the mother and child focuses on details of any current and/or previous child protection involvement relevant to an application made by a mother to have her child reside in prison with her.
Mothers and children program
The mothers and children program aims to maintain parent-child relationships whilst the mother is incarcerated, especially where infants and young children are involved. In appropriate circumstances, where it is in the best interests of the child and consistent with prison management, provision may be made for a child of pre-school age to live with their mother in prison. The decision to allow a child to live with their mother in prison is based on an assessment process with each case determined on its merits.
Currently the mothers and children program is available at both women’s prison facilities in Victoria, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Deer Park and HM Prison Tarrengower in Maldon. The majority of women incarcerated are held at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre - this includes women sentenced to a term of incarceration and on remand. All mothers in these facilities are eligible to apply to care for their young children. The incarcerated mother who wishes to care for her child is required to make a written application to the manager of the facility in which she is held. If the application is approved by the Correctional Services Commissioner the mother then assumes full responsibility for the care and management of the child whilst incarcerated.
Other programs within Corrections Victoria exist to allow mothers the opportunity to have contact with their children:
- Residential Visits Program - operates at HM Prison Tarrengower, and allows for eligible mothers to have family (children and caregivers) stay with them for up to three days.
- School Holiday Program - operates at HM Prison Tarrengower, and allows for children up to the age of 16 years to stay with their mother's in prison for a maximum of four days.
- Custodial Community Permit Program - allows for a mother who was the primary caregiver to her child prior to incarceration, to leave the prison between 8 to 24 hours to visit with the child to enable the family relationships to be maintained.
Both the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower allow for weekly visits between a mother and child.