KWOOP – Keeping Women Out of Prison

/KWOOP – Keeping Women Out of Prison
KWOOP – Keeping Women Out of Prison2020-04-03T16:58:35+00:00

The Keeping Women Out of Prison Coalition (KWOOP)

The ‘Keeping Women Out of Prison’ Coalition, is calling for an urgent review of sentencing laws as rate of women in prison skyrockets by over 50% in just six years.

The KWOOP Coalition for NSW comprises individuals and organisations: service providers, philanthropic, not for profit, universities and women with lived experience of the criminal justice system. It is a strategic partnership between:

Sydney Community Foundation and its Sydney Women’s Fund
By My Side, a subfund of Sydney Community Foundation
Community Restorative Centre (CRC) through The Miranda Project
Dress for Success Sydney through Success Works
SHINE for Kids
Women’s Justice Network
Zonta Club of Sydney
UTS, Australian Centre for Public and Population Health Research 
Corrective Services NSW
Justice NSW
Kathleen York House
Soroptimists NSW
UNSW School of Social Sciences
Individual academics and experts

KWOOP’s vision is for better outcomes for women and children affected by the NSW criminal justice system.

Its purpose is to influence NSW systems, policy and practice in order to reduce the number of women in prison and to minimise the impacts on their families and children.

KWOOP provide’s an independent authoritative voice and targeted support based on evidence and expertise, and is a sub-fund of the Sydney Community Foundation.

Profile of women in prison in NSW

A research study commissioned by KWOOP with Sydney Community Foundation and Sydney Women’s Fund to establish a baseline profile of women in prison in NSW drawn from available data. The main report Profile of Women in Prison Part A: A Snapshot contains the data pertaining to women in prison in NSW as at August 2019.

The study also includes the compilation of a comprehensive list of support services for women in NSW affected by the corrections system. The census of services is published as a separate document, Profile of women in prison in NSW, Part B: Census of Services. Both parts A and B are available in full below.

MEDIA: 

Statewide Drive, ABC Radio 1/4/20 interview with Dr Mindy Sotiri, co-author of Profile of Women in Prison in NSW research report. (Interview starts at 2:37:25)
https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nsw-statewide-drive/statewide-drive/12087294

Philippa McDonald, ABC News 31/3/20 “‘Urgent action’ needed over high proportion of Indigenous women in prison, report says."
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-31/urgent-action-needed-over-indigenous-women-in-jails/12103372

Keeping Women Out of Prison
Advocacy Upcoming Events

Keeping Women Out of Prison
Leading Social Change…

KWOOP Strategic Goals and Outcomes

  • Fewer women in prison (including a reduced number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women)
  • Enhancing health and wellbeing for women and children affected by the NSW Criminal Justice System (CJS)

Key Outcomes 2022:

1) Whole of NSW government commitment to a strategic policy for women and children affected by the CJS incorporating the following key elements:

  • Expanding community based, targeted support available for women across NSW
  • Increasing safe accommodation options for women, bail hostels
  • Enhancing the wellbeing of children 
  • Enhancing access to and uptake of education for women
  • Increasing employment of women affected by the NSW CJS

2) Increasing community recognition of the impoacts of prison on women and children

3) Sustainable resourcing of KWOOP NSW for maximum impact 

“We need to do things differently"
NSW Premier, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian

NSW Parliament House

NSW Premier The Hon. Berejiklian, Welcome speech ‘Empowering Women Changing Lives’ breakfast at NSW Parliament House in 2017 – image credit: Suzan Papazian

In their latest Position Statement, the ‘Keeping Women Out of Prison’ coalition, a sub-fund of Sydney Community Foundation, are calling for more investment in proven diversionary programs for mothers and their children serving shorter sentences, to help reduce the increasing population of women in prison.

More than half of all women prisoners are released after serving just three months.

For children of women in prison, lives are significantly disrupted, the impacts life-long.

“Children of imprisoned mothers are the hidden cost of the Australian Justice system."
Helen Wiseman, Founder, By My Side sub-fund

Children in care are much more likely to go to prison than to university and continue to be over-represented in the criminal justice system.

Keeping Women out of prison, Sydney Community Foundation, KWOOP, Sydney Women's Fund

Keeping Women Out of Prison
Advocacy Position Statements

“The Coalition has formed a body of evidence that shows prison is an ineffective sentencing solution for the majority of female offenders, and that much more could be done to tackle the unique issues associated with women offending, before imprisonment becomes the only option.

“On an annualised basis it costs on average over $86,000 to keep a woman in prison, yet we know that incarceration increases her chances of re-offending, and the costs to her children’s future is far more."
Jane Jose, CEO, Sydney Community Foundation

Keeping Women Out of Prison
Advocacy Past Events

Vanessa Swan, Executive Director Offender Development for Correctional Services, South Australia joined Keeping Women Out of Prison Coalition for a lunch presentation in July 2019.

Read Event recap here and Presentation here

Empowering Women Changing Lives

Breakfast at Parliament House NSW

Every year, Keeping Women Out of Prison hosts ‘Empowering Women Changing Lives’ breakfast at NSW Parliament House. Bringing together policy makers, legal experts, senior decision makers of the justice system and service deliverers this annual event raises awareness and leads to action in social change.

2019 – Sam Mostyn, Chair, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)

Sam Mostyn, ANROWS, Lenore Taylor, Guardian Australia, Jane Jose, Dress for Success, Keeping Women Out of Prison, Sydney Women's Fund, Sydney Women's Charity

(From left) Lenore Taylor Editor The Guardian Australia, Sam Mostyn Chair ANROWS, Eleni Psillakis Peer Support Coordinator Dress for Success, Jane Jose CEO Sydney Community Foundation at ‘Empowering Women Changing Lives’, NSW Parliament House in 2019 – image credit: Suzan Papazian

Sydney Community Foundation and it’s Sydney Women’s Fund with The Keeping Women Out of Prison Coalition convened the 6th annual “Empowering Women Changing Lives” breakfast at NSW Parliament House August 2019, with a  keynote presentation from Sam Mostyn Chair ANROWS.

“The links between violence against women, and the imprisonment of women are well established, including in ANROWS funded research on the support needs of women in prison, launched last year,” said Sam Mostyn.

“90% of women in prison have a history of emotional, sexual and physical abuse.”

“ANROWS has recently embarked on research to respond to the misidentification of women as perpetrators of domestic and family violence, which has resulted in the incarceration of women, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. This is an appalling unintended consequence of laws designed to protect women from intimate partner violence.” 

Read the event recap here. 

2018 – June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

June Oscar, Sydney Community Foundation, NSW Parliament, Women in prison, Human Rights Commission, Kwoop

June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commission keynote presentation at ‘Empowering Women Changing Lives’, NSW Parliament House in 2018 – image credit: Suzan Papazian

Convening the 5th annual “Empowering Women Changing Lives” breakfast at NSW Parliament House this Tuesday 18 September 2018, KWOoP coalition released a position statement and powerful keynote presentation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO.

“This morning I want to deliver a clear message, that is also set-out in the ‘Keeping Women out of Prison’ Position Statement – we have the evidence to prove that our criminal justice system in Australia is in crisis," said Commissioner Oscar.

“Women do not need prison ‘for their own good’. Women need their families and communities," said Commissioner Oscar. 

Read the full speech from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO here. 

2017 – The Hon. Graham West

The Hon. Graham West, keynote presentation at ‘Empowering Women Changing Lives’, NSW Parliament House in 2017 – image credit: Suzan Papazian

At the Empowering Women, Changing Lives – NSW Parliament Breakfast, Wednesday 11th October 2017, Keynote speaker The Hon Graham West, argued how women’s pathways to custody differ from men.

‘Women’s contact with the criminal justice system is often characterised by social and economic dependency connected to violent and abusive relationships and addiction,’ he said.

‘Sentencing guidelines in Australia provide limited scope to consider the impacts of parental incarceration on children.’

‘The majority have never been part of any mainstream they can easily return to. They often come from and return to a handful of postcodes with very little social capital or resources.’

Members of the Keeping Women Out of Prison Coalition at the ‘Empowering Women Changing Lives’ breakfast at NSW Parliament House in 2017.

2016 – Baroness Jean Corston, Author of the 2007 Corston Report

The Right Honourable The Baroness Jean Corston, PC, author of The Corston Report – A review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the UK justice system (2007)  was invited to present about her findings and the resulting changes to the UK justice system at the annual Empowering Women – Changing Lives breakfast in 2016 and to many other audiences over the week in both Sydney and Melbourne. 

Download the Position Paper, Keeping Women out of Prison

Media Coverage of Baroness Jean Corston, PC visit 2016

Further Reading and Interest…

Statewide Drive, ABC Radio 1/4/20 interview with Dr Mindy Sotiri, co-author of Profile of Women in Prison in NSW research commissioned by Keeping Women Out of Prison, a subfund of Sydney Community Foundation. (Interview starts at 2:37:25)
https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nsw-statewide-drive/statewide-drive/12087294

Philippa McDonald, ABC News 31/3/20 “‘Urgent action’ needed over high proportion of Indigenous women in prison, report says."
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-31/urgent-action-needed-over-indigenous-women-in-jails/12103372

Annabelle Daniel, the CEO of Women’s Community Centres.
https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/why-i-left-my-stable-job-to-provide-women-and-children-with-safety-20190723-p529yq.html

Children the invisible victims of women in prison
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/24/women-in-prison-it-took-six-months-of-anguish-to-get-my-child

Aboriginal women battling addictions.
https://www.theherald.com.au/story/6009489/new-centre-to-help-aboriginal-women-overcome-drug-and-alcohol-addiction/

2018 BOCSAR statistics on Reoffending
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/21/number-of-women-in-jail-in-nsw-soars-and-reoffending-may-be-to-blame

Australia entering ‘second convict age’ despite falling rates of crime
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/26/australia-entering-second-convict-age-as-imprisonment-rates-soar

Mums in Prison – Breastfeeding
https://theconversation.com/mums-in-prison-or-whose-babies-are-in-care-need-breastfeeding-support-too-121039

Effecting social service and crime
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-10/tax-cuts-could-starve-social-services-increase-crime/11293336

Challenges of domestic violence in QLD
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-30/the-women-behind-bars-breaching-domestic-violence-order/11330408

Aboriginal mothers in prison in Australia: a study of social, emotional and physical wellbeing
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/1753-6405.12892

Current issues in Sentencing Conference 6-7 February 2016
https://njca.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Kilroy-Debbie-Women-in-Prison-in-Australia-paper.pdf 

Donate Now to support The Keeping Women Out of Prison Coalition

To support this important advocacy and stop children serving a silent sentence, please donate to KWOOP – Keeping Women Out of Prison Fund.

Your generosity will go toward providing critical programs to help women and their families restore their lives after imprisonment and creating stronger Sydney communities.

  • $20 creates experiences for women in a safe environment
  • $50 helps a woman overcome barriers to positive living in the community
  • $100 provides tailored case support for a child and their carer

Contact us

For further information on The Keeping Women Out of Prison Coalition (KWOOP) in NSW, or on how to contribute to this sub-fund, please contact us on KWOOP@SydneyCommunityFoundation.org.au