Breaking the Cycle – Straight Talking Ex-Offenders Reduce Recidivism

Delighted to be guest speaker at the recent Reintegration Puzzle Webinar. These webinars are part of the After Prisons Network Webinar Series 2022.

I spoke about how I identified ex offender peer mentoring as a need and a gap in Australian reintegration models; the key findings from my Churchill Fellowship; how this led to Straight Talking, Australia’s first and only ex offender ‘through-the-gate’ peer mentoring trial; and when Deakin University’s Professor Joe Graffam’s much anticipated trial report will be launched. 

ICYMI – the replay is now available! 

Just headover to this link to watch

Posted in Churchill Fellowship, Justice, Lived experience, Reintegration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A nice finish to 2021

A nice finish to 2021 was reading the article titled “Michael never told anyone about the thoughts in his head until they landed him in prison” by ABC journalist Rachel Clayton. It tells the story of two men and their prison journey; and their experience in the Deakin University Peer Mentoring program. The program called Straight Talking having been “established and led by Churchill Fellow Claire Seppings”.

You can read the story written by Rachel here.

Posted in Churchill Fellowship, Justice, Lived experience, Reintegration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda launched in the Churchill Policy Room at Federal Parliament on Monday 15th March 2021

This week I was invited to the inaugural Churchill Policy Room at Federal Parliament to share my ideas and expertise to help lead Australia out of the COVID recession.

The occasion was the launch of Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda, showcasing the learnings and recommendations from eleven Churchill Fellows who are working hard to solve an incredibly diverse range of issues facing our community today.

The flagship publication of the Policy Impact Program is a partnership between the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the University of Queensland. It is intended that this new publication, Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda, will serve to increase the accessibility of valuable evidence and experiences to policy makers within Australia.

I am honoured to be selected as one of the inaugural Policy Impact Fellows. It was an incredible opportunity and experience speaking to invited guests in the Churchill Policy Room in Parliament House about how ‘Straight Talking’ ex-offenders can break the cycle and reduce recidivism.

  • You can read the full paper ‘Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda‘ here and read my article here:

My sincere thanks to Dr Kirsty Guster, Jennifer Yarnold, Adam Davey, Professor Joe Graffam, Professor Lorana Bartels, my mother Joan Webster OAM, the Policy Impact Program Steering Committee and Policy Impact Program Selection Committee, for all their support helping me achieve this milestone and experience this incredible event.

Posted in Churchill Fellowship, Justice, Leadership, Lived experience, Policy Futures, Policy Impact Program, Reintegration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Introducing the Justice Transition Alliance

I am proud to be a founding member of the Justice Transition Alliance – a new, collaborative Victorian network working to raise awareness to the systemic challenges in transition out of the criminal justice system and recommending evidence-based solutions. Victoria needs a unified voice on the systemic issues impacting people in contact with the justice system and that is where the Justice Transition Alliance comes in. We are a new state-based network of service providers, academics, people with lived experience and passionate community members working to address the systemic challenges of transition out of the criminal justice system. Together, we are raising awareness of these challenges, recommending evidence-based solutions, and developing a unified and compelling voice on priority issues of concern. Learn more about our work, membership, and how to be involved. We welcome new members and all forms of expertise:

Posted in Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Empowering Leaders Summit

My mission in life is to create positive reform in the criminal justice system. Sharing a snapshot of my journey at the Empowering Leaders Summit was a wonderful experience. The opportunity made possible by two amazing women Alexandra Egan and Yaja Nowakowski. You can see all the podcasts from the summit here.

Empowering Leaders Summit

Creating positive reformative change

Posted in Justice, Leadership | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Highlights of 2019: No. 3: John Silvester’s Naked City article ‘Ex-crims talking crooks straight’.

The third significant memorable event of 2019 is thanks to John Silvester, legend Australian journalist and crime writer extraordinaire.

Titled ‘Ex-crims talking crooks straight’ John tells my story, the catalyst for my Churchill Fellowship; how that led to Deakin University’s Straight Talking Peer Mentoring program and highlights one of the programs inspirational peer mentors Simon Fenech.

Here is the story written by John, in his most brilliant style, for his regular Saturday Age column Naked City.

By John Silvester, The Age.

Posted in Churchill Fellowship, Justice, Lived experience, Reintegration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Highlights of 2019: No. 2: Victorian Custody Reference Group (VCRG)

In June, Rob Melasecca, long standing chair of the Victorian Custody Reference Group (VCRG) announced my appointment as his successor. Fotini Panagiotidis and Peter Rankin became joint deputy chairs and Rob Melasecca manager of communications and public relations. Rob has always been and still is an absolute legend and inspiration for me, the VCRG and everyone involved in the system.

I was immensely thrilled, humbled and honoured to be appointed chair of a group I have held dear to my heart for many years; and follow the irreplaceable leadership shoes of Rob, Magistrate Steve Myall and Major Dennis McMillin.

As chair of the VCRG, it was a tremendous honour to present to Victoria’s Magistrates at their Education Conference in July.

The VCRG has now held it’s 154th meeting and has over 25 members.


Posted in Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Highlights of 2019: No.1: The Straight Talking Peer Mentoring Program

As the year 2019 and 2nd decade of the 21st Century draws to a close I am delighted to share with you three memorable professional events. The first occurred in February. The implementation and delivery of the Deakin University Straight Talking Peer Mentoring Program based on my Churchill Fellowship.

Promoted here by Geelong Advertiser

Help for Inmates

As the Straight Talking peer mentoring program Project Coordinator, I had the honour of presenting the trial’s early findings at two conferences.

The 9th International Criminal Justice Conference held 20 – 22 November at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the 2019 ANZSOC Conference held 10 – 13 December at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Posted in Churchill Fellowship, Justice, Lived experience, Reintegration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ABC prison stories with the personal Churchill Fellowship connection

The most significant memorable event of 2018 is thanks to the ABC and my former partner Craig, whom was the personal catalyst for my Churchill Fellowship. The ABC investigated and ran prison related stories in the lead up to the Victorian State Election.

Sarah Farnsworth, ABC reporter contacted me. Sarah said she had been ‘tasked with looking at justice policy and the “tough on crime” approach being adopted by both parties – but the one thing that is always lacking in these stories is people who have actually had firsthand experience of prison and their thoughts…on what works and what doesn’t’.

Craig agreed to be the person with firsthand experience of prison interviewed and filmed by the ABC for the story. He was incredibly brave and fabulous in what he said.

In the week beginning 5th November Sarah Farnsworth’s story was podcast and broadcast on ABC Melbourne radio; shown on the 7pm TV News and then online. You can read and listen to them below.

Matters of State: Why is Victoria’s prison system failing?

Victoria’s ‘madhouse’ prisons are expensive, but are they making the state more dangerous?

James Oaten, ABC reporter then ran a subsequent ABC prison story he had been investigating that included post release aspects of Craig’s interview and my perspective. This was published on 12th November.

Inmate released in uniform prompts emergency phone call — and questions about policy

My eternal gratitude and thanks go to Sarah, Craig and James, and the ABC.

Posted in Churchill Fellowship, Justice, Lived experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

User Voice founder visits Australia to spread the peer led word

As the year 2018 draws to a close I am sharing two very memorable events. The first occurred in June 2018, when a Churchill Fellowship vision came to fruition.

I met User Voice in London on the fifth day of my seven week Churchill Fellowship in 2015. Inspired beyond my wildest dream by the work of User Voice and founder and CEO, Mark Johnson, I have been advocating Australia adopt their model and start the peer led revolution ever since.

Mark Johnson’s visit to Australia was made possible through philanthropic grants funding the Deakin University peer mentoring project I am coordinating and based on my Churchill Fellowship. Mark was accompanied on his whirlwind two weeks of activity by his co-founder Daniel Hutt, now living in Australia.

It was fabulous joining Mark and Dan with Marisa on 3CR’s Doin Time show on 18th June. You can listen to the: Podcast here 

We then shared time in Hobart, Tasmania for the Reintegration Puzzle Conference. Mark was a keynote speaker and I co presented on the Deakin University peer mentoring project with Marngoneet Correctional Centre General Manager, Wayne Harper.

Mark Johnson’s final two days were in Geelong. Mark spoke to and with many interested, engaged and inspired prisoners and staff in Marngoneet Correctional Centre and then to over a hundred people in a packed lecture theatre at Deakin University’s Geelong Waterfront campus. Even more memorable were the stimulating and inspiring chats Mark, Dan and I had during the trip.

It has given me further vision, resolve and drive to realise the peer led revolution in Australia.

Posted in Churchill Fellowship, Justice, Lived experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments