The Melbourne Premiere of the documentary ‘Inside Peace’ was held in August 2017 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Federation Square Melbourne.
Nick Selisky, then a Senior Operations Manager from the Metropolitan Remand Centre (MRC), was in the audience. He invited Andrew Ramsay from the Peace Education Program Support Team, to meet with senior staff at the MRC the next day. Nick’s team of 10 attended the Peace Education Program (PEP) Facilitator’s Training Day a month later.
The Deputy Director of Corrections Victoria had meanwhile attended a conference in the UK. He spoke to Nick on his return and said he’d come back with 3 good ideas he’d like to consider. One was the Peace Education Program. Nick was able to say: “We’re ahead of you there, we’ve already started it.” There is now high level support for PEP in Victorian Prisons.
Since October, the MRC team has conducted 3 pilots with 3 different groups of men. MRC is a large high security facility for both remand and sentenced prisoners. The Victorian TPRF/PEP team recently attended a debrief with MRC staff to work through some of the challenges of running the PEP program in a unit-managed facility with high turnover of prisoners.
Feedback from the pilot was generally very favourable, with prisoners asking for “more homework”.
Meanwhile in February this year, the Victorian TPRF/PEP team was also invited to Hopkins Correctional Centre (HCC) in Ararat to brief combined management and trainers from HCC as well as a team from another prison (H.M. Langi Kal Kal, near Ballarat). Both prisons had heard about PEP through the corrections network and were keen to trial. Since May 2018, PEP is now operating in both prisons and running 2 groups per week. So far the feedback has been very good. Hopkins has a waiting list of 20 prisoners and prisoners are said to be enjoying the PEP sessions.
It’s early days for PEP in Victorian prisons, however the signs are very positive.
A further screening of Inside Peace was held in Frankston (outer Melbourne) on Tuesday 19 June, targeting a range of different agencies including health care, drug and alcohol rehabilitation services and police.
Dawn Rees and Annie Macgregor
PEP Support Team, Victoria.