Our in-prison transition support program ReLink has switched to remote delivery after the announcement of Stage 4 lockdowns to help fight COVID-19 in Victoria.

Since March, VACRO’s reintegration coordinators have modified their program delivery, replacing group workshops with one-on-one sessions to comply with strict social distancing protocols. These modifications meant we could stay in the prisons for as long as possible, preparing our participants to face for the uncertainty of life beyond the prison gate.

These sessions will now take place via video link with the participants on a device in prison.

During the sessions, our ReLink staff will continue to help participants to develop goals and build the life skills, confidence and responsibility needed to successfully transition back to their communities after prison.

Key points:
  • Stage 4 lockdown means face to face ReLink sessions in prisons will stop temporarily
  • Our team has immediately changed to remote facilitation, delivering the same specialised support
  • It’s just one way VACRO continues to support participants during this tough time

VACRO has delivered ReLink in almost every Victorian prison since 2015, employing 15 trained reintegration coordinators. These facilitators have been steadfast in their commitment to program participants and highly adaptive to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staff have been safely and carefully working in prisons throughout the pandemic, including adherering to social distancing practices and wearing masks.

The decision to move ReLink to remote delivery was made by the Department of Justice and Community Safety – Corrections Victoria. VACRO’s CEO Marius Smith commended the move, describing it as the right decision at the right time.

“Along with a small number of other organisations, VACRO was one of the last service providers to cease in-person programs last week,” he said.

“It’s the right decision, because the risk that our staff might unknowingly introduce the virus is higher now due to growing community transmission. But it’s a testament to our staff that they were disappointed to have to leave the prisons – they are so committed to ensuring that their participants get the help they need.”

ReLink Program Manager Michaela Baker said the change to video link delivery wouldn’t affect the specialised support provided by ReLink facilitator.

“We know that it’s going to be harder for our coordinators to work over video and phone lines, but they’ll bring the same enthusiasm and commitment to ensuring that every participant receives the guidance and support they require to help them feel as prepared as possible for their return to the community.”

VACRO supported 1555 people in the past year through ReLink, which is funded by the Department of Justice and Community Safety – Corrections Victoria.

Through ReLink, we offer two levels of support. The first (usually run as an in-person facilitated group session), switched to one-on-one sessions at the beginning of the pandemic in order to support social distancing requirements. Both level one and level two of ReLink will now be delivered remotely.

We will continue to deliver ReLink remotely until the earliest moment staff can safely return in person.

More information