It's a wrap
Across the nation, Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers are selecting and wrapping presents for children whose parents cannot be there with them at Christmastime – the estimated 34,000 full-time prisoners incarcerated in Australia’s jails.*
Victoria’s senior chaplain and state representative Major Joyleen Stewart reports that people gathered at Rowville Corps in the Eastern Victoria Division on Tuesday, 2 December, where they wrapped ‘approximately 1,800 gifts for children of male prisoners, then prepared them for postage – approximately 900 parcels were sent in family groups to children whose father is in prison’.
The major prepared nearly 6,500 gift bags ‘as gifts for male prisoners’. The major notes that when she first commenced with a courts and prisons appointment, in 2008, ‘the prison population was just over 4,000’. The Salvation Army’s Victorian courts and prisons chaplains will receive the parcels for distribution in the fortnight following the wrapping day.
Major Stewart notes that the effort was supported by 60 corporate volunteers, ‘court and prison chaplains from across the state of Victoria, some prison staff, Corrections Vic staff, and family and friends of chaplains,’ and she thanked Salvation Army worker Amy Baker for helping to organise corporate volunteers.
‘Sadly, we have seen a dramatic increase in the Victorian prison population over the past year,’ she notes, ‘with an increase this past year of over 600 people. This will continue with the ongoing development / extension of current prisons, and a new prison that will be built to house 1,100 prisoners.’
The women prisoners' children also receive gifts, but their gifts are wrapped and distributed at a party or sent, therefore their gifts are organised separately.
* National ABS figure from the September 2014 quarter.