There are many existing programs designed to support the financial stability of people in prison across Australia. Financial Counselling Australia and Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP) recognised the need to build a holistic understanding of the national corrections landscape to avoid duplication and build on existing learnings. In response, this project was born.
The Fostering Financial Stability for People in Prison project aims to understand the various challenges, risks and success factors for existing prison programs across Australia that are designed to support the financial stability of people in prison. It will work with people with lived experience, to build on existing initiatives and seek to understand how programs that support people to leave prison in a financially stable position can be as effective as possible.
This project has been enabled by a grant from the Financial Counselling Foundation and we thank them for their support.
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Phase Two - Current Activities
Currently, the Fostering Financial Stability for People in Prison Project is in Phase 2 undertaking research with people with lived experience in the corrections system.
Research with Lived Experience
Within this phase of the project we are working with purpose driven research, design and technology company Portable, to interview people with lived experience in the corrections system.
We have joined 3 focus groups and conducted 6 interviews with people who are currently at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Tarrengower and Kareenga prisons, and people with past experience in the corrections system in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales. These interviews and focus groups have helped to build an in-depth understanding of the issue from the perspective of people in prison, highlighting specific needs, feelings, thoughts and requirements that may be beneficial for fostering financial stability for people in prison.
Phase 2 will produce a journey map of the existing and desired experiences of people in prison in relation to their finances and debt issues and we look forward to sharing this soon.
Increasing awareness and access to the National Debt Helpline
Also within this phase of the research, TCP led the Virtual Scoping Workshop on Increasing Access to the National Debt Helpline (NDH) in Prisons alongside 16 participants from 11 organisations across 6 industries including corrections, legal, financial and community sectors, as well as people with lived experience. Access to the NDH was identified as a potential "quick win" in the pursuit of the overall guiding vision that people are able to leave prison in a financially stable position.
The insights and outputs from this workshop will help inform potential next steps and we look forward to sharing these as they progress.
Phase One - Emerging insights and opportunities
Research insights were generated from 22 deep-dive interviews with financial counsellors, corrections staff, community sector and essential services sector representatives from across Australia. A focus group with Victorian financial counsellors working in prisons and a national cross-sector workshop further matured these findings. Key insights and emerging opportunities identified were:
- There are diverse cohorts of people in prison with specific needs in relation to financial stability
- There is a spectrum of debt-related needs
- Low priority of financial matters is a barrier to accessing support
- Targeted support for people on remand and short sentences is a current challenge and key opportunity
- Continuity of support improves outcomes, but there are many barriers to achieving this across the journey
- Barriers for essential service providers supporting customers in prison
Case Studies - click to enlarge/download pdf
Are you involved in a project or pilot that supports the financial stability of people in prison you’d like to share? Submit your case study here