Violence victims given smart phones after prison


Commissioner for victims of crime Kati Kraszlen said that around 70 to 90 per cent of incarcerated women are also victims of domestic violence. Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Smart phones and lawyers will be provided to victims of domestic violence in a women’s prison program in a bid to stop the cycle of abuse.

The $2M, 3-year trial program, called Leave Safe, Stay Safe (LSSS), launched in May at Bandyup Women’s and Greenough Regional Prisons.

It is the first program in WA to give women a smartphone to use for emergency contacts and important information upon release from prison.

Curtin University social policy professor Donna Chung said it’s important for the women to have connections and safe access to technology.

“On the whole this is a positive move. But how do we keep the phones’ safe so that others can’t use it or track it?” Prof Chung said.

Prof Chung says that more important is the need to ensure that support extends post-release from prison.

These women need “affordable, secure and appropriate housing if we really want to give them a chance to keep away from their abuser and not rely on the abuser’s housing,” Prof Chung said.

Free counselling, legal support, safety planning, risk assessment and online safety education will also be provided to incarcerated victims of domestic violence.

Gosnells Community Legal Centre (GCLC) family lawyer Courtney Ashton said that the program runs for 3 months pre-release and then a further 3 months after the victim is released from prison.

“They get the support whilst they’re in custody to be able to leave safe and then they get the support 3 months after they’ve been released to stay safe,” Ms Ashton said.

Relationships Australia will facilitate the program by providing ongoing case management and refer women to other services such as GCLC if they need to apply for a family violence restraining order.

It is anticipated that every year around 100 women will volunteer to engage in the program.

An evaluation is due to be done in 2025 and the program could potentially be set up in other prisons.

Relationships Australia and The Salvation Army were contacted but could not provide comments at the time this article was published.