Reducing the stigma for incarcerated women | In conversation with Amelia Pickering - CEO, Prison Network


Women who have been incarcerated are more stigmatised than men, according to Amelia Pickering CEO at Prison Network, an organisation that has been providing support for women and their families for over 75 years.

Considering trauma and abuse is the driver of incarceration for many women in prison, the dignity that Prison Network provides by travelling with the women in and beyond prison is life changing. 

Prison Network pitched at the Women and Girls TFN event in October 2022 and raised $33,473 for the innovative approach they are developing to support women to make lasting changes once they walk out those prison doors to begin their lives again. While Amelia recognises there are many pathways for women to gain employment after leaving prison, most of them are easy fixes without the support in place to make them a lasting opportunity.

That’s why Prison Network is partnering with employers to develop systemic change within employment settings for these women. These partnerships are about developing relationships that support women to get work, keep work and thrive in work by skilling workplaces to be good fits for the women who want to work with them. Learning to work in a supportive environment is essential to learning to live again. Since receiving funding from TFN, Prison Network is building their employer network and their workplace programs. 

Amelia grew up in South Africa where the advantage and disadvantage often sat starkly right  beside each other. She grew up wanting to change the world, now she realises that even if it’s just a little bit that you can do, that it’s important. When she reflects on the attitude to giving in Australia, she notes there is a long way to go in philanthropy. “Australians are incredible when there is a disaster and we can see the issue. But for disadvantage that is hidden, or embedded in unfair and damaging stigma - it’s a much harder sell.”

Like other TFN Alumni, Amelia reflects on her experience with pitching at TFN and grassroots funding in glowing terms. “While other funding acquisition was about extensive grant applications and ticking boxes and fitting into what they want you to be, TFN enables you to authentically tell your story that resonates right there in the room.” The joy and energy that she found gave her a moment of reflection on the work that she was doing. “My work can be challenging and bleak,”reflects Amelia, “and to be part of something that allows me to feel this encouragement about the work we do is really wonderful to be a part of.” 


Written by Jacinta Parsons for The Funding Network