Stay Together Play Together program helps mend family bonds
The Sector > Provider > General News > Stay Together Play Together program helps mend family bonds

Stay Together Play Together program helps mend family bonds

by Freya Lucas

April 08, 2024

ACT Corrective Services (ACTCS), together with SHINE for Kids, have launched a playgroup for family members in custody at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) which is designed to support family relationships, improve children’s wellbeing, and better prepare parents for a ‘hands on’ parenting role once they leave prison. 


Known as ‘Stay Together, Play Together’ the program is the first playgroup offered to fathers in custody across any of the correctional centres that SHINE for Kids work with across Australia.


“We’re at the beginning of an exciting time for SHINE for Kids in the ACT. It’s not only the first time we’ve offered playgroups for fathers in custody, it’s also the first time our entire suite of programs has been provided at any correctional centre,” SHINE for Kids CEO Julie Hourigan said.


Yeddung Mura Aboriginal Corporation has also partnered with the program to provide live music and culturally appropriate resources and activities to the playgroup.


ACT Minister for Corrections and Justice Health Emma Davidson hopes the playgroup will remove the discrimination and stigma faced by children and families due to a parent’s imprisonment.


“This program is about connection and family,” she said. 


“For parents in AMC, connection with their family helps them return home with better support, belonging and pride in their children. These elements set them on the best trajectory to be healthy and safe in our community and reduce the likelihood of reoffending.” 


As well as helping parents to stay connected, the program helps children to have positive relationships with the adults in their lives. 


“When parents enter the criminal justice system, and children grow up without a parent for a period of time, it can significantly impact their development, identity and sense of belonging,” the Minister explained. 


“The playgroup, with the other family programs SHINE has been delivering since 2011, supports healthy family connections to reduce family engagement in the justice system. It explores the emotional and social complexities of shame, anger and denial which can have a negative impact on family relationships and community reintegration.”


The first session ‘went wonderfully’, one SHINE facilitator shared, talking about the moving moment when one dad’s toddler fell asleep on his shoulder, with the young dad saying: “I can hear his heartbeat – I feel like a dad again.”


To learn more about ‘Stay Together, Play Together visit the SHINE for Kids website.

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