Through care for women exiting Mary Hutchinson Women’s Prison: Towards a gender responsive approach to post release support

Women’s Health Tasmania is proud to release the Just Support Project Report researched, written and complied by Project Officer, Iona Johnson. The Just Support Project was funded by the Partners in Recovery Flexible Funding Pool, to explore the post release supports currently available to women and their experience in accessing those options. It is informed by the experiences of women navigating the criminal justice system, who are some of the most marginalised and stigmatised groups in our society.

Research shows women without support are more likely to reoffend and that with support they have a better chance of rebuilding their lives. The Project considered possibilities for developing more effective service provision post release. The Report identifies a lack of co-ordinated support for women exiting prison, leaving women to return to the challenging situations that led to their offending. Recommendations include establishing co-ordinated long-term tailored, intensive support for women exiting prison to help break cycles of addiction and recidivism. The report recommends this support be based on a gender responsive practice framework and approach to deal with issues such as family violence, trauma, abuse and health issues that are prevalent for women in prison.

Women’s Health Tasmania is funded by Department of Health and Human Services to work especially with women at greater risk of poor health outcomes. Executive Officer, Glynis Flower said, “The Just Support Project has been a very successful way for us, as a small organisation, to work strategically to overcome multiple layers of disadvantage. It builds upon our work with individuals and groups within the Mary Hutchinson Women’s Prison.”

Iona Johnson said “Research and pilot programmes in other jurisdictions on gender responsive work provide a strong basis for the recommendations for the Just Support Project report. Keeping one person in prison costs the government over $100,000 year, so investing in services that reduce prison numbers is a cost saving measure.”
The project would not have been possible without the reference group consisting of Department of Justice workers and community sector providers as well the ongoing advice and support from the women who have already struggled with life after exiting prison.
Glynis Flower Executive Officer