The Miranda Program is a therapeutic and practical program for women at risk of offending or re-offending.
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The New Year has seen unprecedented numbers of women in custody in NSW. The creation of a successful model for implementation of the Miranda Program in multiple locations, a drop-in centre and an employment service becomes even more imperative. 

Excitingly, since our last newsletter in December 2016, more people wishing to volunteer and become actively involved in supporting the Miranda Project have contacted us. We are now working on ways these new Friends of Miranda can be most helpful.
BOCSAR Custody Statistics Quarterly Report Update December 2016
Some of the latest statistics from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR):
  • 1033 women in custody
  • 451 (43.5%) on remand
  • 136 (30%) of those on remand were Aboriginal women*
  • 582 were sentenced
  • 214 (36.7%) of those sentenced were Aboriginal women*
*Aboriginal women are the fastest growing group in the prison population in NSW and across Australia

Looking at release data in BOCSAR’s Custody Statistics Quarterly Update December 2016 shows us details of time spent in custody. Of particular interest to the Miranda Project are women whose time in custody is only on remand. Women released from remand, i.e. those who have entered custody after being refused bail and then discharged without having received a custodial sentence, spent an average of 35 days in gaol.

Being granted bail is the most common reason for release from remand. Other reasons include criminal charges not being proven, receiving a non-custodial penalty for a proven offence or being transferred interstate, or from a juvenile to an adult prison or vice versa.

Sentenced women released from custody, i.e. those incarcerated at sentencing, had spent an average of 164 days in custody.

Women who had been remanded in custody then sentenced to a custodial term spent an average of 217 days in prison.
It’s important to bear in mind that averages give a picture that does not show the experience of the majority who spend short periods in custody. The low percentage of women remanded and/or sentenced for long periods inevitably shifts the mean, giving an impression of longer custodial periods for the majority.

We are currently reviewing the status of the project. One of the clear observations so far has been the need for support in attending appointments among women in the Miranda Program. Getting there is a big challenge, particularly if ‘there’ is not a place you really want to go. Motivation is an issue. Transport is a big challenge. Indirect public transport links, frequent need to change forms of transport, and the costs and time required can be daunting and discouraging, particularly for people whose health may not be strong. Motivation to get to appointments with controlling authorities may not be strong either.


Discussing the transport and ‘getting there’ issue with other agencies, particularly ones with workers who have been ‘there’ once themselves, has led the Miranda Program to seriously consider the possibility of collaboration, and has opened up opportunities for partnering.

The Women’s Justice Network (formerly known as WIPAN) and the Miranda Project are beginning to discuss how to work closely together to link our clients with much-needed mentoring support. WJN have been overcoming such barriers for many years by linking women to their trained volunteer mentors for social, emotional and practical support. A woman is then afforded holistic assistance coupled with professional support, which is exactly what is needed to keep her in our community.

Sharing likeminded goals in deterring women from contact with the criminal justice system, we are eagerly developing plans to walk together to serve and benefit our mutual clientele. Thank you, Lana! We were there on 2 March as WIPAN re-badged to become the Women’s Justice Network, a move inspired by the inclusion of mentoring youth who have not ended up in prison and hopefully never will.

In Bathurst, links with another Community Restorative Centre project are showing strong possibilities for collaboration in helping women to get to appointments. Respectful, non-judgemental, supportive, flexible and inclusive - these words best describe the nature of assistance needed.

In our next newsletter, watch for Kitchen Table and Christmas Cake, activities that are inclusive and engender feelings of belonging.


Deirdre took the baton (the Miranda mobile phone) over the Christmas/New Year break. The need for personal contact and shared humour was evident from the first engagement with clients over this holiday period, which is so often a low ebb for people within the criminal justice system. Isolation, loneliness, despair and hopelessness are common experiences at this time of year. Texting is the preferred mode of communication among Miranda clients, a very direct form of communication, with known shorthand an immediate shared language. Having mentors and volunteers linking with clients in this way is part of the holistic approach we are aiming for.



To date the Miranda Program has received 29 referrals or enquiries regarding participation. We are starting to see self-referrals which are very welcome. These have come through word of mouth from existing clients, from women in the community and from women in custody.

Bail Letters

We have written four letters for bail hearings, two of which have assisted the women in being granted bail in the Supreme Court. As we go to press, two are pending and another letter has just been written for a potential client appearing in the Local Court.
Thanks to a friend of the Miranda Project, Lee Frost, we held a stall at Glebe Market on 17 December. A banner, brochures and cards were included on the stall that was selling a great range of interesting things both new-ish and old. Among the people who asked about the project were young law students. The modest takings are being used to support clients with transport costs. Some of the goods remaining at the end of the day were donated to the sewing class at Lou’s Place. Many thanks to Lee for her initiative, donations of goodies and big effort on the day.

As International Women’s Day approaches on 8 March we delve into the history of the day (women’s rights at work) and consider the challenges to employment experienced by women who have criminal records in twenty-first century Australia.

Samantha Redding, from Legal Aid NSW, looks into the situation in the context of the Miranda Works program. You can read the complete article Miranda Works & International Women’s Day here - what follows is a short extract:
International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. As the name suggests, it has established itself as a truly international event and is in fact a recognised public holiday in many countries.

The event reportedly has its roots in the United States of America in 1909, when the Socialist Party of America held the first ‘Women’s Day’ in remembrance of protests held the previous year, at which women protested in relation to employment–related issues including shorter hours and better pay.  Significant progress has been made in terms of women’s rights in the workplace since that time; however, women continue to face inequality in the workplace. Women who have been involved with the criminal justice system face this inequality together with other specific challenges in obtaining and maintaining employment.

Identified barriers to employment highlight the need for a holistic approach to assisting women with experience in the criminal justice system. Education and employment are one part of the rehabilitative process, and Miranda Works is one part of the broader community and program that is The Miranda Project.

Miranda Works envisions a bespoke employment agency that will ultimately be operated by women who have been in the criminal justice system. Individual pathways will need to be tailored to program participants, including mentoring and ongoing support, with a view to engaging women in meaningful quality employment in collaboration with employment partners.

This concept fits perfectly with the theme for International Women’s Day 2017 - #BeBoldforChange – ‘to help forge a better working world and a more inclusive, gender equal world’.

Miranda Works is a bold initiative. It advocates for change in both the way employers consider job applicants with criminal records, and positive change in the lives of program participants. This can help forge a better working world, a more inclusive, gender equal world, and can help women stay out of custody and take control of their lives.


On Wednesday 25 January, Deirdre and I travelled to Bathurst, home of the Central West Women’s Health Centre (CWWHC), one of the Miranda Program pilot sites. We met with members of the Bathurst Wiradjuri and Aboriginal Community Elders to discuss support for Aboriginal women through the Miranda Program. We are thankful for their time, their warmth and generosity, and the insights they shared with us.

Deirdre and I also met with Community Corrections (Probation and Parole), a very productive meeting regarding current clients and future referrals. This was followed by a meeting with CWWHC and representatives from legal services including Women’s Legal Service NSW, Legal Aid Dubbo and Orange, and the Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre, Katoomba. Bathurst Community Corrections also attended.

During this meeting, issues presented by women in the criminal justice system and Miranda Program clients were identified. These include:
  • Transport and getting to appointments
  • Women who have trauma backgrounds
  • Assistance for women who have or are experiencing domestic violence, and the Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme program
  • Housing
  • Criminal law
  • Civil and family law
  • Victim support
  • Driver qualification
  • Carer status and support for primary carers
  • Care and protection proceedings (child protection)
  • Debt
The meeting discussed how these needs are being addressed within the wider Bathurst community, and possibilities for closer working ties.

There exists considerable coordination amongst the legal services across the multitude of issues around housing, including blacklisting, debt and the fabulous Work and Development Orders (WDOs) that assist people to work off debt by attending programs and doing volunteer work. All of this was important to hear, in terms of meeting clients’ concerns.

In Bathurst, the Care Coordination Group facilitated by Community Corrections addresses the issues for clients with dual diagnosis who are at high risk of reoffending. Links between CWWHC and the Care Group were made at the meeting.

We were also provided with contacts for more services and stakeholders in the Bathurst region, which will help us build capacity to support Miranda Program clients. We are very appreciative of the time each service took to participate.

Vale Professor Tony Vinson AM

We wish to acknowledge the passing of Professor Tony Vinson AM.

He was a courageous and tenacious reformist, particularly in the areas of corrections, education and social disadvantage. He was a wonderful teacher and enabler of opportunities for a great many students.

It was my great privilege to be taught by this wonderful man, as my tutor and lecturer during my Bachelor of Social Worker course, UNSW from 1983-1986. The difference Tony Vinson has made in the lives of so, so many, including my own, is far greater than he could have ever possibly imagined. RIP Professor Vinson and Thank You.
Inga Lie
Miranda Project Program Coordinator
Tony Vinson AM (11 November 1935 – 17 February 2017)

In February, we welcomed Rhonda Davis, on student placement, who is completing her Cert IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs through Mt Druitt TAFE. Rhonda is a Kamilaroi woman and it’s a real bonus to have her here to work with us on developing the training program and reviewing the Program’s modules.

‘My name is Rhonda and I am currently doing my student placement for Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs at CRC, Broadway.

I am honoured to be a part of the Miranda Project for my placement, as the program is focused on women in the criminal justice system.

I am currently in custody and have been given an amazing opportunity to complete my studies in an area I am so passionate about. I love the work that people here do to support clients throughout their journey.

I am hoping that, on my completion, I will find employment in the AOD sector, focusing on women with AOD and/or mental health issues.

Being an Indigenous woman, it would be rewarding to be part of an Indigenous service.’

        - Rhonda Davis

The Women’s Advisory Council (WAC) of Corrective Services NSW has a standing item on its agenda for an update on the Miranda Project, an initiative of the Council. Chair of the Council, Jenna Bateman CEO Mental Health Coordinating Council, said recently ‘the Miranda Project is important on a number of fronts. Showing how women can work together to support other women. Defining a model that fits the NSW context. Learning and sharing what’s been learnt in the UK, whose successful women’s centres and employment service we are building on.’

This Evaluation of Sixteen Women's Community Justice Services in Scotland is worth reading to understand the UK experience:

Click Here for the short version
Click Here for the long version

Since our last newsletter, Miranda Project Manager Megan Etheridge has resigned from the Project. We would like to thank her for the considerable contribution she made to the project and we wish her well. Thank you, Megan.

Julie is a middle-aged woman referred to the Miranda Program by a non-government organisation who worked with her extensively prior to her entering custody. Julie has strained relationships with her adult children and her violent partner was also in prison. She was on remand, her first occasion in prison, and had no prior convictions.

Julie contacted the Miranda Program directly from custody. She had an upcoming Supreme Court bail hearing and by all accounts it was considered unlikely she would be granted bail. She no longer had a solicitor, however she decided to proceed by representing herself in her bid for bail. We explained the Program to her and discussed her hopes for the future. Julie was very keen to participate in the Miranda Program.

The Miranda Program wrote Julie a support letter for court indicating she had been deemed eligible to participate in the Program. Julie was released from prison at 8pm the evening of her Court appearance. Contact was made with her and she immediately engaged with the Program.

Julie demonstrated great drive and determination in representing herself in Court against considerable odds. She spoke of intense anxiety leading up to her hearing but was given great assistance by other women in custody who encouraged her to proceed with representing herself, at the risk of an unfavourable outcome. We acknowledged her courage and reflected on her plans and goals for the future.

The Miranda Program has linked Julie in with another of CRC’s services, which has provided her with secure accommodation and ongoing support. Now that she is settled, she has managed to locate a GP and obtained a mental health plan for counselling with a local psychologist. She has also expressed interest in undertaking a course to lead her into employment. She is motivated by wanting to be a good role model for her children, one of whom is also engaged in the criminal justice system. We have commended her for her self-drive and determination at a time of instability and uncertainty.

We’re often asked about the name - the Miranda Project. ‘Miranda’ is not a reference to the comedian, a US legal requirement or the suburb, but to the fictional character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Miranda, shipwrecked on an island, survives tempest and storm, and a male-dominated isolation, to return safely to the civilised world…

Within the Project, sits the Miranda Program. ‘Program’ appears in diverse contexts and with varied meanings, ranging from a thin publication of performers’ details, a show on telly or a printout naming all shows and times, and a series of instructions in a computer. It can also mean a formal course of study with a beginning a middle and an end, or an open-ended cumulative activity with ongoing and changing components. Phew! Confusingly the Miranda Program refers to two things at the same time. One - the process of referrals, exchange of information, case management, staff development and interagency collaboration; and two - a suite of psycho-educational modules that can be used according to individual clients’ needs.

Hope that clarifies things a bit!
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