With support from an ACT Women’s Grant for a project aimed at improving the wellbeing of women in prison and transitioning into the community in the ACT and surrounding region, WCHM has been visiting the women in the AMC weekly since September and seeking their input about their information and support needs. We have been using this information to information sessions for the women with the support of service partners and others to attend the prison with us and share their expertise with the women. The sessions delivered so far have included topics such as sexual and reproductive health (with support from the Women’s Health Service and Sexual Health and Family Planning); Budgeting and finances (with support from CARE Financial Counselling); managing emotional health (with support from BPD Awareness ACT); Safety planning for domestic violence (supported by DVCS), parenting/ connecting with kids (CatholicCare); and My Health Record and how it works (Capital Health Network).
We have also been working with many of them to gain a better understanding of their needs and their lived experience, so that the issues affecting these women can be used to encourage the system and services to be more responsive to their needs.
We have also been consulting with the women and helping some of the women to be involved in and help shape responses for women in the AMC and when they leave, and have explored their views on the responses needed for their key health including mental health, physical health, domestic violence, and drugs and alcohol as well as social issues such as support for employment, which we will use in our advocacy.
WCHM will also be contributing a submission to the Healthy Prison Review based on what we have identified from our work with the women in prison and the services supporting women. We are also working with the women in prison to support them to provide input for a submission as well as holding a forum with community services who support women in the prison or when they are released from the prison.