I am honoured to be awarded a 2015 ‘50th Anniversary’ Churchill Fellowship Award and very grateful to the Winston Churchill Fellowship Memorial Trust to provide me with the opportunity to study the rehabilitative role of ex-prisoners/ offenders as peer mentors in Reintegration models in the UK, Ireland, Sweden and the USA.
The aim of the Trust is to provide an opportunity for Australians to travel overseas to conduct research in their chosen field that is not readily available in Australia. It also aims to reward proven achievement of talented and deserving Australians with further opportunity in their pursuit of excellence for the enrichment of Australian society.
I feel immensely proud to be a Churchill Fellow and cannot wait to begin my travels on October 1st 2015. I am particularly excited about meeting the people I have engaged with in all the various government and non-government agencies in these countries, learning of their expertise with a view to sharing my findings when I return to Australia to the benefit of the community as a whole.
My professional and lived experience of the criminal justice system spanning the past 30 years has given me deep insight of the system and driven my passion to work with others to bring about reformative change and I aim to do just that – change the prison system.
From one where we continue to see over 50% return to prison no matter what ‘we’- government and non-government agencies and families do. To one where we cease the drain on the coffers for the taxpayer and where we cease to see the community experience another victim.
To one where we value the contribution-reformed ex-prisoners and offenders can give to current prisoners entrenched in the prison sub culture and criminal culture. To one where we embrace former prisoners as role models using their experience in turning their own lives around inspiring prisoners to see their potential, find their place within a non-criminal community and connect with much needed social capital.
I have consulted widely and found there are many organisations across Australia very keen to see the outcomes of the project with the evidence to implement such programs in their service. The foundations to include peer mentoring in our criminal justice system are in place. Peer mentoring makes sense. Reformative change proposed by this project will result in significant returns on investment and public safety for the Australian community.