The African Visitation and Mentoring Program matches people of African background who are involved with the criminal justice system in Melbourne with a mentor to support them through their sentence and post-release.
How does it help?
Social isolation leaves people at higher risk of re-offending after involvement with the justice system. To address this disconnect, the African Visitation and Mentoring Program matches people from African backgrounds with trained and carefully selects volunteer mentors, who develop positive relationships with program participants to assist their transition back to the community.
Participants receive one-on-one, ongoing practical and emotional support from their mentor, and are supported to re-engage with the positive relationships and services that will support their successful transition out of the justice system.
How does it work?
Mentors visit participants on a fortnightly or monthly basis. They provide practical and emotional support, a listening ear, and aim to develop a positive relationship with their matched participant.
Mentors can offer service coordination support in the community, including help with:
- Referrals to specialist services
- Advocacy support
- Delivering group work and creative workshops to engage participants in community.
The relationship between participant and mentor creates circles of support and increased social connection that aims to reduce re-offending and strengthen community bonds.
Who can participate?
The African Visitation and Mentoring Program is a Victorian-based program for adults from an African background who are in need of support, either:
- During their time in custody
- After their release from prison, or
- While completing parole or other community-based orders.
Where is it offered?
The African Visitation and Mentoring Program operates regularly in six Victorian prisons:
- Port Phillip Prison
- Metropolitan Remand Centre
- Dame Phyllis Frost Centre
- Melbourne Assessment Prison
- Barwon Prison
- Marngoneet Correctional Centre
It also operates at other prison locations based on need, and in the community across metropolitan Melbourne.
How does someone make a referral?
People who are currently imprisoned in Victoria can speak with programs staff at their prison to obtain a referral.
People who have recently exited prison, are on parole, or are serving a community based order can contact the AVAMP Senior Project Officer at Jesuit Social Services to learn more about the program and request a referral.