For the better part of 2021, Rod lobbied the government to begin an inquiry into children of imprisoned parents.
Rod was incredibly pleased to see the Chair of the Legal & Social Issues Committee, Fiona Patten MP self-reference this inquiry with the support of the Government, opposition, and crossbench members.
The Inquiry is now underway with hearings and site visits taking place. Rod has visited a number of prisons and spoke to many parents. Submissions closed on 29 April 2022.
You can keep updated on the hearings here https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic-lc/article/4832
There are an estimated 43,000 children with an incarcerated parent in Australia. Researchers at the University of Western Australia found that children with incarcerated parents are 63% more likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school, compared to the rest of their peers. They have a higher risk of poor social, emotional, cognitive, and communicative development than other children.
Despite this clear need for family support in this area, there is a massive data gap. There is no one in Victoria keeping data of how many children of parents in custody despite this being easy data to collect. There is also no Minister accountable in Victoria for children with relatives in custody.
This begs the question; how do we know which children need these family support services?
These children are the invisible victims of crime. There are significant social and financial benefits to providing support early on and breaking these intergenerational cycles of disadvantage.
The cost of doing nothing is enormous. That is why this inquiry is so important.
Finally, a voice will be given to those children who have for too long suffered unfairly for the crimes of their parent.