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Family & Community Support

Families and community relationships can play an important part in supporting an offender to make and sustain those changes which reduce reoffending.

The Offender Services & Programs (OS&P) Branch supports integrated and comprehensive service responses, recognising that holistic interventions that target offenders' multiple needs and involve work with offenders' families and the wider community are more likely to be effective in reducing reoffending.

Therefore, the OS&P Branch promotes and negotiates relevant projects and research in this area, looking at practice standards, program & service evaluation and ways to improve integrated responses to families and communities affected by the criminal justice processes through active participation in

  • Community reference groups such as the Throughcare Jigsaw Group, a collaboration of organisations providing broad based services for the benefit of offenders, ex-offenders and their families
  • Joint research initiatives with academic institutions and external agencies, both government and non-government
  • Internal agency committees such as the Women's Advisory Council and the Children and Families of Offenders Steering Committee

A strong family relationship can help offenders make and sustain the changes needed to turn away from crime. Imprisonment is known to disrupt family and community bonds and research suggests that this disruption increases the risk of reoffending.

Therefore specific services are provided for families of offenders who are in custody to facilitate contact and manage family crises as well as strengthen and maintain positive relationships. These include:

  • Travel & Accommodation Assistance Scheme to support families who face hardship in meeting the costs of travel and accommodation when visiting correctional centres a long distance away from their home
  • Support and professional services to families affected by Death-In-Custody, including the subsidy for funeral expenses.

In addition, offenders in custody require assistance with a number of services to address their offending behaviour and deal with other life circumstances. Offenders are either referred to relevant community based service providers or directly supported by trained OS&P staff members who can assist them with:

  • Fundamental support services to alleviate distress or immediate concerns and address transition needs
  • Crisis intervention services to resolve critical or dangerous problems
  • Case management services to facilitate classification and case plan activities
  • Rights protection services to uphold prisoners' rights as incarcerated citizens
  • Wellbeing/Prevention services to promote or maintain healthy lifestyles
  • Services relating to specific needs such as disability, mental health, end of life etc.

OS&P staff members involved in this direct service delivery require a range of administrative, service and clinical support in order to maintain consistent high quality professional standards. The OS&P Branch provides:

  • Policy & procedure standards for services to offenders and their families affected by incarceration through the  Inmate Services Support Team.
  • Clinical supervision to front line Offender Services & Programs staff, to enable them to reflect on their practice and enhance quality service provision.

The Principal Advisor Family and Community Support provides high level advice to senior Corrective Services staff on all matters relating to offenders' transitional needs, matters affecting their family and the wider community. Policy and procedural development is part of this position, dealing with comprehensive and integrated delivery of services, programs and activities. As a member of the Offender Services and Programs Advisory Team, the Principal Advisor Family & Community Support is responsible for ensuring:

  • Policy & operational standards are monitored, reviewed and developed.
  • Professional advice is provided to senior departmental officers
  • Programs & services are supported though participation in their review, evaluation & development
  • Families affected by a custodial sentence are supported through assessment & referral, subsidized travel & accommodation, crisis support and linkage with existing community resources.
  • Agencies, both government & not-for-profit, are supported in their service delivery by participation in community reference groups, training and joint research initiatives.
  • CorrectiveServices is represented to external agencies, academic institutions and community networks.
  • Relevant research in this area is promoted and negotiated through the Services & Programs Practise Development Group, and specific to the Family & Community Support to Reduce Reoffending Research Agenda

Further information on services to families and children of offenders. 

Key documents and resources

For more information about visits, the Children and Families of Offenders Steering Committee, and the CSNSW Strategy for service and program provision to Children and Families of Offenders visit the Information for Visitors page.

Contact the Services Support Team

Level 7 East, Henry Deane Building
GPO Box 31 Sydney NSW 2000
sst@dcs.nsw.gov.au