Members of the Zonta Club of Sydney voted to support women affected by the criminal justice system as their Advocacy project in 2013. Since then, the Club has partnered with like-minded community organisations – the Sydney Community Foundation, the Community Restorative Centre’s Miranda Project, Shine for Kids, Sydney Women’s Fund through its Sydney Women’s and By My Side Funds and the Women’s Justice Network to form the Keeping Women out of Prison Coalition. The role of the Coalition is to raise awareness into the complex issues relating to women affected by the criminal justice network in NSW prisons and to advocate for change to areas of concern.
We do this at the annual ‘Empowering Women, Changing Lives’ Breakfast event held at Sydney’s Parliament House at which guest speakers have discussed issues which have included –
- education and training
- the importance of mentoring
- the children of women in prison, and the
- over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women in the criminal justice system. (You can read the speech given by Ms June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the 2018 breakfast here.)
The Breakfasts have been very successful and each year attract good corporate sponsorship, media attention and increasing attendance numbers from government, Corrections NSW, corporate, academia, the legal fraternity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, politicians from all parties, community and not for profit organisations.
At Club level, guest speakers from Corrections NSW, the Women’s Justice Network and the Miranda Project have attended Club meetings to discuss work in progress for women in prison and post-release. Each month, the Advocacy Committee Chair produces a report to the Club providing an overview of news relating to women in the NSW criminal justice system, statistics, media, voluntary work and international.
While this project commenced life as an Advocacy project within the Sydney Club, it has expanded to include Service and voluntary work. Through our Service Committee, Club members have reached out to this group of women by supporting the Community Restorative Centre’s Miranda Program which is run at Lou’s Place, Kings Cross by donating good quality clothing, underwear and toiletries as well as financial donations.
As well, members of the Sydney Club serve voluntarily on the Keeping Women out of Prison Coalition (KWooP) and its sub-groups and as volunteers at the Breakfast event at Parliament House.
To read more about the Keeping Women out of Prison Coalition, you can find the 2017 position paper update here. Empowering-Women-Changing-Lives-Breakfast-2017-Position-Paper