Most people who go to prison leave behind a family.

The pain of that separation defines their time inside. Kids have to grow up without their parents around, and adults must adjust to new, lonelier roles. Research tells us families of parents in prisons are disproportionately socially excluded—facing stigma, shame, powerlessness and grief, on top of the financial and practical challenges posed by imprisonment.  Some kids must care for their younger siblings; others are forced from the family home into foster or kinship care. Prison, suddenly, becomes a punishment for the entire family.

But there are ways we can help.

Maddie stayed close to her five-year-old son while in prison thanks to VACRO’s family programs.

Read Maddie's story

Strong family relationships can keep people in communities.

Research and experience tell us strong family connections can help reduce the severity and frequency of a person’s offending behaviour – and can even keep them out of prison entirely.

But many people go to a prison that’s hours away from where their family lives. Visits become hard and expensive, and the prison visiting environment can be stressful for kids. Imprisoned parents lose confidence in their roles and skills as parents, and family relationships can start to fray.

VACRO’s family work helps keep families connected, despite the barrier of the prison gate.

Our work:

  • Provides free family counselling to eligible parents in prison, to help keep relationships strong.
  • Keeps families in touch through video visits to prisons, where children can chat to parents from the comfort of their own homes.
  • Subsidises travel and accommodation costs for Aboriginal families visiting loved ones in Victorian prisons.
  • Organises family activities and school holiday fun for kids with parents in prison.

It’s work like this that helps keep families together and communities strong when someone gets caught in the criminal justice system. Your donation to VACRO helps us continue to support people to get their lives on track and build new beginnings.

25-year-old Mark has always felt alone. Our support helped him find his feet after leaving prison, connecting him with professional help in his community for the first time.

Read Mark's story

If you believe in second chances and strong communities, you stand for VACRO’s work.

Supporting VACRO

VACRO is one of Victoria’s oldest independent community organisations. We support new beginnings for people in contact with the criminal justice systems and their families, and work to make communities stronger for everyone. Chip in with a tax-deductible donation to support us today.