Updated: Jul 18, 2020
We are extremely proud to announce that Norm Reed, Executive Director of Onesimus, is being recognised in the 2019 Tasmanian Australian of the Year Awards, with Norm being nominated for the 2019 Tasmanian Local Hero amongst other Tasmanians whose passion is serving their community.
Building on the work of the Christian Family Centre, a small local church that neighbours Risdon Prison, Onesimus Foundation came into being in 2016. Onesimus aim to create healthy relationships between incarcerated individuals and their families and community. Our mission is to provide the appropriate support to prisoner’s and their families during incarceration so that on release from prison, they are welcomed back into the community as useful, profitable and fulfilled members of society with a reduced risk of offending. In line with our mission, providing services such as video visits, the Homework Club, Kids’ Days and compassionate visits, our role in the community has evolved into advocating for children affected by parental offending by educating Tasmanians on what a child experiences when a parent is incarcerated.
Recognising the traumatic experience for the families of individuals who are incarcerated, especially children, and its impacts on the social, emotional, educational and financial development of families and their communities – Onesimus seeks to lessen the harm caused, by educating Tasmanians in the government and non-government sector through courses such as Hidden Sentence Training and Practitioner’s Training. Hidden Sentence Training is a course for all professionals whose work brings them into contact with a prisoner’s family, who are serving a ‘hidden sentence’ and increases their awareness on the impact that parental incarceration and offending has on a child. The course was developed by the Children Affected by Parental Offending (CAPO) Working Group in 2015, modelled on practices in the UK, and a second follow-up course has since also been adapted into an Australian context called Practitioner’s Training where professionals are provided with tools and resources to use in their work when in contact with children affected by parental offending and incarceration.
In our efforts to have a positive impact on society and advocating for families affected by incarceration, in August 2018 CAPO conducted its first Road Show in Launceston to highlight the challenges faced by children whose parents offend and encourage collaboration of agencies in working to support these vulnerable children. We continue in our path of giving a voice to those serving a hidden sentence in 2019 with Road Shows scheduled for the North West and East of the state.
At Onesimus, we work collaboratively with government and community agencies to offer support for prisoners and their families during incarcerating and on reintegration into the community. With a small group of volunteers, we are constantly seeking new approaches into educating Tasmanians on the importance of creating healthy relationships between incarcerated individuals and their families and community. The work we have achieved in the past few years and services we provide are extremely unique in Australia, and we hope that one day families are considered more in the design of prisons, the services prisons provide and for communities to be more educated in the impacts incarceration has on a prisoner’s family.
Continuing to provide a range of services for families affected by incarceration, we have a much more important role which is to advocate for those whose voice is quite often lost in this journey. We hope the recognition of this nomination allows for the community to have a better understanding of those who are serving a ‘hidden sentence’.