Rod Barton MP believes that data collection on children with incarcerated parents must be a priority if we are to address persistent cycles of disadvantage.
SHINE for Kids is an organization founded to support children and adolescents who have dependents in the criminal justice system. They estimate that around 77,000 young people in Australia currently have parents in prison. These children are up to six times more likely to end up in prison themselves.
Despite this clear need for family support in this area, there is a massive data gap. There is no one in Victoria who keeps data on how many children are parents in custody, although this data is easy to collect. There is also no minister responsible for children with imprisoned relatives in Victoria.
This begs the question; how do we know which children need these family support services?
Currently Victoria is relying on the nonprofit sector to fill that void. SHINE for Kids offers programs such as one-on-one in the classroom, the Ride by Your Side program, which provides supportive transportation for children, and a prison visits program, which fosters the bond between parents and their children. According to Moana Waiti, SHINE Family Practice Manager, “SHINE for kids Victoria programs support positive family interactions, build bonds and maintain the child’s bond with the incarcerated parent.” SHINE for Kids regards this work as crime prevention.
These children are the invisible victims of crime. Early support and breaking these cycles of disadvantage between generations brings significant social and financial benefits.
The cost of doing nothing is enormous. Children with parents in prison have a lower life expectancy, are less likely to complete their education and are less likely to find long-term employment. Most importantly, as SHINE’s national manager said April, “They are promising children who deserve support while facing their parents’ incarceration. You deserve a chance to thrive like any child. They should not be punished for their parents’ crimes. ”“.
Barton believes that if we don’t collect data on these children, we will make them more invisible. Given the importance of this data, the government should consider appropriate funding for key industry leaders such as SHINE to collect, analyze and advise on this data.
Quotes attributed to Eastern Metropolitan member and Transport Matters Party leader Rod Barton MP:
“Working with children and young people who have relatives in the criminal justice system is the concern of early intervention.”
“Without data on who these children are, how can we allocate resources to support this cohort?”
“There is a financial incentive to offer these all-round services at an early stage. Without support, these children often experience a life of systematic disadvantage, which puts a considerable strain on our social systems. The support of these families benefits the entire community. ”
/ Public release. This material is from the original organization and can be punctiform, edited for clarity, style and length.