13 January, 2015


Women are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged group within the correction system.

That's why Barnardos Australia started the Beyond Barbed Wire Mentoring program, which aims to help women leaving jail get back on their feet.

According to Shiree Talbot from Beyond Barbed Wire, the mentoring program supports mothers during their transition back into the community and helps them develop positive skills.

"We do that by providing a safe social network for them to talk about their experiences and life's challenges," says Shiree.

"Our mentors support women with children to find new social groups and set goals, as well as build their confidence and self esteem.”

Shiree says the measure of the program's success differs for each mother as they all have different goals.  Beyond Barbed Wire has supported women to find secure safe, affordable housing, enter into TAFE courses and employment and even get a license to drive a car.

"But the most notable success is that 95% of women with children, who have participated in the Beyond Barbed Wire Mentoring program, have remained out of jail*."

Barnardos is currently looking for mentors to make a difference in the lives of women who need support outside of the correctional system.

"Mentoring may be one of the most valuable journeys a individual can undertake," says Shiree said.

"It has many challenges and many rewards, both for the mentor and the mentee. Working as a volunteer mentor with a woman in the criminal justice system is not a typical mentoring role. These women present with a unique and complex set of issues. Although women make up a much smaller percentage of the overall prison population, research shows that they are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged group within the Correctional system."

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for the Beyond Barbed Wire program please contact Shiree Talbot, Leonie Phillips, Sarah Woodham or Tarni Hughes on 1800 637 210.

For more information about the Beyond Barbed Wire program please visit our Western NSW Centre page.

* Beyond Barbed Wire reporting as of 1 December, 2014.