Crucial Connection (Reconnect) Program – mainly outside youth prison in SEQ
As they become teenagers, children who have been impacted by the adult or youth prison systems need a different type of support. Since 2001, our workers in Brisbane have supported many 12-18 year olds whose mother is in prison or who are themselves criminalised and at risk of homelessness. Our Reconnect Workers focus on improving young people’s connection with their mother, extended family, work, education, training and their community. This includes providing family and individual counselling and support for young people, their mothers and families. We advocate for young people and their families with prison authorities, government, the community and non-government organisations, when this is needed. We also run activities such as sport/dance groups, art groups or camps which encourage peer support amongst young people.
Youth Skills Program – outside prison in Brisbane
Overall, this program aims reduce the number of young women living in poverty through improving their ability to get a job. Since 2018, Youth Skills has worked with criminalised, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, young women aged 15-24 in Brisbane. The Youth Skills Worker helps each individual young woman to work out her interests and address the issues that make it hard for them to engage with employment, education or training. The program offers a Certificate II in Hospitality, and the Worker attends the course alongside participants, assists each young woman to complete course requirements, and offers opportunities for work experience and/or employment through Barista Sistas or other women-friendly (particularly Aboriginal) businesses.
Yangah Program – inside and outside youth prison in SEQ
Approximately 80% of children in prison are on remand. This program aims to reduce the number of 10 – 17 year old girls being held on remand in the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre (BYDC) and/or police watch houses in the Greater Brisbane Area. Our Yangah Workers improve the likelihood of a successful bail application, through ensuring girls’ access to safe, secure accommodation; community-based services and support; legal representation; and individual and family support. We can liaise (with girls’ permission) with Youth Justice case workers. The program also provides post-release support via outreach to enable girls to continue to meet their bail conditions, and builds relationships with girls in BYDC through a regular art group. The Yangah Program has been running since 2018.
Barista Sistas – outside prison in Brisbane
Our first social enterprise project, Barista Sistas, began trading in November 2018. This coffee cart is open Monday to Friday mornings (starting early) outside the Sisters Inside offices at 326 Montague Road, West End in Brisbane. It provides an opportunity for Youth Skills participants (and sometimes older women) to gain work experience and build their confidence to enter the workforce.
Small grants and donations enabled SIS to establish Barista Sistas coffee cart and provide barista training for young Aboriginal women.
First Nations Girls’ Art Group – outside prison in Brisbane
Another unfunded Sisters Inside service, this weekly art group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls has been running since 2009. All girls and young women who are criminalised, or at risk of criminalisation, are welcome to join the group and attend as often as they like. Girls affected by their mother’s criminalisation typically ‘graduate’ from our BOWS Program at age 12. The Art Group
has generally been funded through donations, with Reconnect Workers providing assistance (e.g. transport) and support to enable young women and girls to participate. Sisters Inside holds an auction of the girls’ art work once or twice each year, with the proceeds going toward a significant group activity for participants (e.g. a trip to the Great Barrier Reef).
Youth (Violence Prevention) Program - NQ
Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young people and children is often the result of an intergenerational cycle (driven by colonisation and racism). This program aims to break this cycle through violence prevention activities, education and support with those affected by criminalisation and family violence. Our Youth Worker coordinates an art group for First Nations young women, a sport/dance group for young Aboriginal men and a dance group for young Torres Strait Islander men. (The program also employs a Children’s Worker who coordinates a playgroup for women and children inside the TWCC.) Both workers also provide individual information and support to participants outside group activities.