An innovative trial of peer mentor support for ex-prisoners to break the cycle of recidivism.

Great news! My Churchill Fellowship  research has now come to life in Australia!

As we know, in overseas jurisdictions, ex-prisoners who have reformed contribute to reducing re-offending by mentoring newly released prisoners and advising on improvements to service systems that enable people to live a crime free life.

Philanthropic trusts have granted Deakin University funds to develop and trial a peer-led mentoring program to break the cycle of crime and imprisonment in Geelong. This partnership project between Deakin University and Corrections Victoria will design and test a model of peer mentorship for the Australian context, based on my Churchill Fellowship research. Deakin University has appointed me the Project Coordinator.

Many thanks to these Philanthropic Trusts, Deakin University and Corrections Victoria for enabling this to happen.

Give Where You Live: Health & Wellbeing Innovation Grant
Deakin University: To reduce the likelihood that a person will commit further crime and return to prison by providing them with a structured peer mentoring program upon release from prison. The peer-mentoring program will provide direct support and referral to a range of support services that support people who are disadvantaged.

Helen Macpherson Smith Trust: Regional Resilience grant
Deakin University: The role of Peer Mentors in breaking the cycle of crime and imprisonment in Geelong. To undertake a trial of peer led mentoring program for people leaving prison and returning to Geelong under the supervision of Community Correctional Services to test applicability in the Australian context.

The R E Ross Trust
Deakin University: The Role of Peer Mentors in Breaking the Cycle of Crime and Imprisonment in Geelong.

Stay tuned!

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3CR’s Doin Time broadcast 17th July 2017 focusing on the lived experience of prison.

Wonderful to be in the 3CR studio again with Marisa for the Doin Time show. This broadcast had the lived experience theme. Marisa and I spoke with Linda Fisk, founder of Seeds of Affinity and a Radio Seeds broadcaster. Linda spoke about her story, the work of Seeds of Affinity and the Reintegration Puzzle conference.

Listen to the 3CR Doin Time podcast to hear this interview along with the show’s other interviews.

John Dowd, President of Community Justice Coalition spoke about the NSW Government not accepting the free offer of online counselling for prisoners in their cells. Lucy Honan from Refugee Action Collective (Vic) spoke about an upcoming event called ‘How Can We Break the Bipartisan Support for Offshore Processing?’ hosted by the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

3CR Community Radio 855am

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Reintegration Puzzle Conference 2017 (part 2)

Source: Reintegration Puzzle Conference 2017 (part 2)

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Radio Seeds broadcast on Friday 7th July focusing on the Reintegration Puzzle conference.

Radio Seeds is a project of Seeds of Affinity Pathways for Women , a non-profit, volunteer run community group that supports women to support each other upon their release from prison.

Radio Seeds aim to support women in prison, and those who have recently left, and to educate the wider community about the issues faced by women with a criminalised history.

Radio Seeds broadcast on the first Friday of every month on WOW-FM 100.5FM from 3 – 4pm (Adelaide time).

Tomorrow, Friday 7th July, the broadcast and show will be focusing on the Reintegration Puzzle Conference.

If you are not in the local area, you can tune in online at

Alternately, you can listen to the podcasts afterwards at Radio Seeds.

You can subscribe for monthly reminders at Radio Seeds or follow Radio Seeds on Facebook and Twitter.

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Changing Systems from the Inside Out: a most successful Reintegration Puzzle Conference, Sydney, 21st – 23rd June 2017

Building on the user voice reform I was inspired beyond expectation on my Churchill Fellowship trip in 2015, the Reintegration Puzzle Conference convened by Deakin University, now in its 13th year and with the theme #changingsystemsfromtheinsideout has celebrated its best, most moving, informative, reformative and credible conference to date, helping to break down the ‘us versus them’ division.

In the words of User Voice (United Kingdom),
We believe that the fundamental issue that causes high rates of re-offending and all the other associated problems is the ‘us vs. them’ culture. Society feels frustrated with those who re-offend repeating cycles of behaviour and not engaging with rehabilitation services. Yet people with convictions feel marginalised by society, with rehabilitation services which are often inaccessible and unhelpful and a system that doesn’t value their input. Whatever the truth, we won’t reduce crime unless we deal with this division.
Rehabilitation only happens when everyone in the criminal justice system shares responsibility for transforming the ‘us vs. them’ division into real collaboration.

Bringing together some of the most emerging inspirational people with lived experience of the criminal justice system in Australia, the Reintegration Puzzle conference was led by speakers sharing their own stories and how they are now driven to bring reform to the Australian prison system. Combining lived and professional experience they are inspiring and empowering others who are struggling to ‘go straight’ move forward positively with their lives in the mainstream world and informing policy makers on much needed systemic change.

Glenn E Martin, JustLeadershipUSA spoke to conference delegates via a pre-recorded interview with Matt Tyler in Harlem, New York, USA. Glenn reinforced the message those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.

Conference keynote speaker, Keenan Mundine, Principal Consultant/Owner of Inside Out Aboriginal Justice Consultancy powerfully stated #don’ttalkaboutuswithoutus and #morethandataandstatistics. Behind the data and research statistics are real people. People with feelings and emotion.

Wise words continued from many speakers. In the session Reintegration: Women with Seeds of Affinity and Radio Seeds we heard how prison does not solve the social problems that lead to offending and only makes it worse. What is needed is connection, relationships and community acceptance.

Keenan Mundine, Claire Seppings, Seeds of Affinity.

I was honoured to present again on my Churchill Fellowship research in the breakout session Harnessing Lived Experience with inspirational colleagues. It was wonderful to know that one of my research recommendations has come to fruition at this conference:
3. b) Criminal justice conferences and forums should routinely invite reformed offenders as keynote speakers, including international speakers.

Claire Seppings, Nick Ross (Red Cross), Keith Hinde (Red Cross)

Claire Seppings

I was thrilled to be interviewed by Radio Seeds for their next podcast and interviewed live by Raf Epstein on ABC Melbourne’s Drive program while at the conference and let listeners know that we will soon trial a peer mentoring program in Victoria! Stay tuned! You can listen here: ABC Melbourne Drive

Real reform has begun. Profound personal, community and systemic change in Australia is now possible.

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Tougher parole? Time for more prison scrutiny.

In light of the most recent community parole debate, there is a need to provide the common sense and accurate response.

Here is my letter to the Editor that appeared in the Age and Herald Sun last week.

The tragic events involving parolees should not result in responses that are likely to put us in more danger. Community safety is enhanced when people are released under parole supervision. The majority of prisoners are eventually released and it is in the community’s interest to have them released onto a period of parole rather than no parole/supervision. Do we ever ask, “what did the prison do to lower the risk of an ex-prisoner reoffending?”, especially given the enormous cost of prisons to taxpayers and the recurring rehabilitation failure rate. It is time to hold prisons to a higher level of accountability and transparency regarding prisoner rehabilitation. The Age

To be accurately and responsibly informed of the case in question and parole process, I encourage all to listen to the chairman of the Victorian Adult Parole Board, His Honour Judge Peter Couzens speaking with Neil Mitchell, 3AW. 3AW Mornings with Neil Mitchell

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3CR’s Radio for Change Radiothon 2017! Still time to donate!

In case, you missed us. Listen to podcast of our Radiothon broadcast on Monday 12th June.

3CR Doin Time

Claire, Pete and Marisa in 3CR Studio Doin Time show

In 2017, 3CR is Radio for Change. To stay radical and independent 3CR needs your support! The ‘Doin Time’ program needs $850! The Radiothon is on until 18th June!

3CR Doin Time is an open forum, presenting information and discussion around issues faced by prisoners in the criminal justice system and migration detention centres.

All supporters please donate so 3CR and the ‘Doin Time’ program can stay radical, independent and on air! Call the station and make your pledge by phoning 03 9419 8377, go online here 3CR Donate  or just pop into the radio station at 21 Smith st Collingwood.

3CR Community Radio 855am

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3CR’s Radio for Change Radiothon 2017!

Tune in to the fantastic unique 3CR 855AM Community Radio’s ‘Doin Time’ show to support the show’s Radiothon fundraiser on Monday 12th June 4:00pm to 5:00pm. I will be joining presenters Marisa and Peter in the studio.

In 2017 3CR is Radio for Change. To stay radical and independent 3CR needs your support! The ‘Doin Time’ program needs $850!

3CR Doin Time is an open forum, presenting information and discussion around issues faced by prisoners in the criminal justice system and migration detention centres.

We are advocates, activists and people with lived prison experiences (those who have done time inside or suffered the loss of a loved one via a prison sentence) and aim to provide a voice for those the State would rather silence, and to extend a line of communication between our brothers and sisters on the inside and those on the outside. We recognise those in custody as part of our community, and in today’s throwaway society we want prisoners, their families and friends to know that there is support for them out here and that we refuse to take the easy and popularised route of tossing them on the scrap heap as extremists would have us do. Those of us on the outside have a responsibility to speak out about what happens in prison, how people are treated, and the regular denial of the human rights of the millions of women and men worldwide who are suffering, dying, brutalised, humiliated, raped, and bashed in prisons every day. That’s why we are here. Raise your voice and join us.

All supporters please donate so 3CR and the ‘Doin Time’ program can stay radical, independent and on air! Call the station and make your pledge by phoning 03 9419 8377, go online here 3CR Donate  or just pop into the radio station at 21 Smith st Collingwood.

3CR Community Radio 855am

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13th Reintegration Puzzle Conference, 21st – 23rd June 2017, Sydney, New South Wales.

Come along and spread the word. The 13th annual Reintegration Puzzle Conference in Sydney 21 – 23 June 2017 has the theme changing systems from the inside out. So many great presentations on the program. Alongside wonderful colleagues, I am presenting Prison Reform through the Expertise of Returned Citizens: Learning from Reformed Offenders who have Gone Straight Makes Sense. Do not miss the chance to participate in Australia’s only not for profit conference focusing on reintegration of people post-prison. Register today!

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‘Castlemaine fellow weighs in on youth justice’ Midland Express

Many thanks to Donna Thomas, Journalist, Midland Express for coverage of my appearance at the Parliamentary Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres in Victoria.

Parliamentary Inquiry into Youth Justice Centres in Victoria

Midland Express March 28th 2017

Midland Express

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