Street Address:  Level 1/116 Hardware Street, Melbourne Vic 3000 
  Postal Address: P.O Box 14093, Melbourne 8001, Vic.
Phone: 03 9605 1900
  Fax: 03 9602 2355
  Freecall: 1800 049 871




Informing Service Planning

The recent Report of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry (Cummins Report, 2012) makes clear reference to each of Victoria’s departments and agencies needing, ‘to be more accountable for the specific delivery of services in relation to vulnerable children and families within their traditional portfolio responsibility’ (xli). 

Alongside of this, VACRO’s publication Next Generation on the Outside, 2012 provides a framework for collaborative action to reduce the impact of parental offending on the next generation of children.  Recommendations align with the direction of the Cummins Report and are targeted to apply to each stage of contact with the criminal justice system in Victoria.

This  collaboration between VACRO and the North Western Metropolitan Region Department of Justice concentrated on collecting basic empirical data rather than exploring a more complex needs analysis.  It aimed to provide a simple, targeted snapshot of the parenting status of Community Ccorrectional Service clients in the NW region.  It also gives an indication of the numbers and ages of children affected by early to mid-level parental contact with criminal justice sanctions (ie: non-custodial).

Download the report here. For further information contact Melanie Field-Pimm on


Better outcomes for vulnerable families in contact with Australian criminal justice systems   

This publication looks at the ordinary functioning of the criminal justice system and the unintended adverse effects on families and children of offenders. Through no fault of their own, these children are already exposed to higher than usual levels of parental drug and alcohol use, family violence, mental illness, poverty, housing instability, child abuse and social isolation. Risks to children’s safety and well being then increase with parental contact with criminal justice systems. 

The body of the document looks at each critical stage of contact (police, courts, community corrections, custody and reintegration) describing the issues that arise and proposing priorities for action, consistent with a throughcare approach. 

The final section of the document addresses actions or planning that need to occur at the level of systems. These include data collection, research, leadership and collaboration. Each action forms part of a coordinated response that will ultimately lead to the delivery of better justice and community service responses. 

Why take action on this issue?  

The document proposes a coordinated framework for work by many stakeholders that will improve responses to the needs of children and families of offenders. The aim is to protect children from harm and at the same time produce outcomes that will benefit the whole community by reducing the individual and social burden of crime. Reasons for responding in this way include: 

  •  Protecting children   from harm and intervening early to protect children from increased exposure to risk factors; 
  •  Promoting children’s growth  , well being and healthy development to improve life chances. >> Supporting opportunities   for children’s development and engagement in education; 
  •  Strengthening families  ’ capacity to cope and to support children with improved access to services, building individual and family resilience; 
  •  Engaging all family members   - vulnerable parents, carers and children - in support through local primary care and education systems. 
  • Reducing the economic and social costs   of reactive crisis interventions (health, welfare and criminal justice responses); 
  •  Improving service ability   to address multiple forms of disadvantage through joined up services and reducing the social burden of criminal activity. 

Download a copy of   Next Generation  here. Hard copies of the report are available on request. Please contact VACRO Reception (+61 3 9605 1900) or email 

If you would like further information about   Next Generation or to discuss VACRO’s work in this area, please contact: Melanie Field-Pimm, Manager Communications & Development


A service model for the melbourne magistrates’ court

In 2008 VACRO received a grant from the Legal Services Board of Victoria to scope the development of a court based information, support and referral program for the families of defendants.

The rationale for this project was simple: while there has been critical investment in services to support defendants and victims in criminal trials, there is little specialist support available to the families and children of defendants. There is, however, evidence to suggest that provision for targeted services to families of defendants may assist in reducing recidivism and inter-generational criminality, promoting community justice and providing earlier intervention and support to particularly vulnerable families.

The Court Based Family Support Project was conducted by VACRO with Lisa Ward Consulting Services over a twelve month period concluding in late 2009. A project reference group provided expert advice on key service design issues. Representation included existing court based support service providers, court administrators, policy makers, researchers and broader family support providers. In addition, the project consulted with a wide range of legal, government and community service providers and policymakers.

The final report draws on an analysis of the existing demand and international evidence on best practice models. The report then presents a set of specifications for the delivery of a family support service linked to the Magistrates' Court. The specifications cover the proposed service targeting, intake mechanisms and intervention types and consider important partnerships with existing service providers. VACRO continues to pursue exciting opportunities to pilot and develop this innovative service approach to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families.

Download the report here. For more information about the Court Based Family Support Project, or to request a printed copy of the report please contact VACRO or phone (03) 9605 1900.

VACRO acknowledges the support of the Legal Services Board in funding this valuable document.


This project completed a thorough review of the policy and legislative gaps pertaining to children with imprisoned parents, and conducted a broad series of interviews with mothers in prison and post-release, as well as with police, solicitors, judges and carers of children. A Discussion Paper detailing the findings from the research and review, and an Executive Summary are available.

The second phase, involved consultations with stakeholders and interested parties about ways to improve the entire process for any children involved. These consultations have contributed to the formation of recommendations to achieve this, with the focus on a system-wide, interdepartmental set of policies and protocols. An Action Paper is available.



A Study of the Needs of Children and Families of Prisoners in Victoria highlighted issues of:

  • Support services for prisoners' families
  • Maintaining contact between prisoners and their children
  • Prison Visit facilities
  • Support for Caregivers
  • Children's responses to having a parent in prison
  • Recidivism
  • Inter-generational offending
  • Pre-release preparation and post-release support for prisoners in the context of the family

The report concluded

There is a need to develop integrated and holistic services for the children and families of prisoners, provided by professionals who have an understanding of the prison system. The focus of care of the prisoner should be expanded to included the care of the prisoner and his/her family.

A greater awareness of the parental status of prisoners acts as the starting point but should be further developed by exploring ways of maintaining family ties and supporting children whose parents are in prison. These elements would be part of the integrated approach to breaking the cycle of offending behavior.
Download the report here.



Victorian Association for the Care & Resettlement of offenders
Level 1/116 Hardware Street Melbourne VIC Australia 3000
P +61 3 9605 1900 | Free: 1800 049 871 | F +61 3 9602 2355 | E

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