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Hidden Sentence is a training course is for all professionals whose work brings them in to contact with prisoners’ families.


The Tasmanian CAPO group developed Hidden Sentence Training for practitioners in Tasmania based on training developed by Action for Prisoner's Families in the UK. This full days training provides a factual component, highlighting the significance of this issue for our local community, and the consequences it has on the children we are working with.


The first half of the session uses the voice of children and families affected by incarceration, as well as several case studies, to allow practitioners to learn in a way that is tailored to their services and how they may respond to these situations. The second half of the day involves a tour of the Risdon Prison facilities, giving practitioners an insight into what families and children experience when trying to maintain contact with their loved one.


The program is designed to remain conversational, engaging practitioners in a way that helps them better their practice and their ability to support these children and families within their service. The training directs practitioners to a range of resources, which they are given to take home with them, which can help them in this endeavour.

Hidden Sentence training increases the awareness professionals have on the impact parental incarceration has on children, and the role they can play in lessening the harm. Not only does its theoretical component increase general understanding of the present issues, but it allows for a conversation on the ways it may impact their organisations. Professionals leave Hidden Sentence training with a wealth of tools and resources which allow them to better their practice and continue to improve their understanding on the experiences of children and families. It also encourages networking and greater multi-agency collaboration between the prison service and relevant community stakeholders.

Onesimus has developed a practical training course for professionals who have direct contact with children and families.  The course is ideal for Social Workers, teachers, pastoral staff, early years practitioners, health visitors, nurses, foster carers, resettlement and prison-based family engagement workers and others.  The training, developed by UK Barnados, has been adapted for use in Australia and provided free to practitioners.

A Practitioner’s Guide, which has been modified for Australia, is provide to all participants in the course refers to key research and theory in order to highlight the impact of offending on the whole family. With a visual and practical combination of tools, diagrams, practice tips and substantial resource lists, it then equips practitioners to provide effective community-based responses, from assessment and support planning onwards.

Drawing on Barnardo's extensive experience working with offenders' families the Guide is built on four essential practice foundations:

1. Children's Rights
2. Understanding the stages of the Criminal Justice System
3. Multi-agency Working
4. Safeguarding

Key issues covered include: telling the children about family member offending, organising prison visits, answering parents' and children's frequently asked questions, assessing offenders' families' needs and including them in support plans, exploring feelings with children and providing age-appropriate information, managing children's behaviour and supporting them to cope with change, keeping in touch, and much more.

The Appendices of the Guide are packed with resource lists and tools for direct work with children, and the contents page in the interactive digital copy includes hyperlinks to make navigating the resource more convenient for professionals.

The Australian Guide can be downloaded by clicking on this link

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