Maree hadn’t seen her son in prison for 20 years before we supported her with a personal video visit.

Maree is 80 years old and lives alone with her two dogs in a quiet suburb of Melbourne. Her son is in prison, and she hadn’t been able to see him for 20 years.

Maree has limited mobility and wasn’t able to physically visit a prison.

In March, Corrections Victoria temporarily paused in-person prison visits to keep people in prison and their visitors safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon after implementing the pause, Corrections Victoria introduced personal video visits, using people’s own laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

It meant many family members like Maree had to adapt to new technology to visit their loved ones in prison. Working together with Corrections Victoria, we set up a hotline, where people could call to get personalised support to help set up and manage their calls.

Maree was one of our callers.

She initially had trouble connecting to the call. But our Family Support Officer found her on Skype and guided Maree through the steps of accepting a call. The process was difficult for Maree, but eventually our staff member was able to coach her through the process, and they connected the call successfully.

Maree said she was planning on ‘visiting’ her son the Saturday after she called our hotline, and was both nervous and excited about seeing him again.

Families face challenges on either side of the prison gate. Our video visits hotline is one small, practical way we can support families like Maree and her son – removing some of the barriers families face to staying connected.

More information about Corrections Victoria's video visits