The conference, organized by the then Prisoners Aid Association of South Australia as the first federal conference on prison after-care, was opened by the Chief Secretary of SA, Sir Lyell McEwin, who expressed support for the concept of co-operation essential between government and voluntary agencies in prison after care.
In the opening session, Mr Justice McClemens of the Supreme Court of NSW said that although a penal system was necessary, after care was an integral part of the criminal justice system, and the better the after care, the less the recidivism. He called for the education of the whole Australian community on this issue.
Subsequent speakers at the conference included Mr S.W. Johnston, head of the Criminology Department at the University of Melbourne, who observed that the power and competency of law courts in dealing with criminals was diminishing and was being replaced by an increased responsibility on prison administration.
Judge Alfred Rainbow
Judge Alfred Rainbow Q.C. of the NSW Workers Compensation Court said that many gaols throughout Australia were outdated. He supported the proposition that prisoners should be allowed out of gaol towards the end of their sentences to get accustomed to the outside world, and said that although these suggestions had been “laughed out of court”, the Victorian government had recently amended its Prison Act along these lines. He said that Britain and Ireland had had similar schemes for some years.
On May 20, the Conference voted to form what was then known as the Australian Prison After-Care Council. Judge Rainbow was elected President and Professor Norval Morris (Professor of Law, University of Adelaide SA) and Mr R Ince (Prisoners Aid Society,Victoria) as Vice Presidents. Rev H.G Weir (SA) was elected Secretary and Mr Frank Hayes (NSW) as Treasurer. Executive members were Mrs P.N.Frost (Fairlea Women's Prison,Victoria ) and Messrs J.D. Dwyer (Research Officer, Tasmanian Attorney General's Office) and C.A.Gannaway (Welfare Officer, Prisons Department, W.A.).
Subsequently the Council, following resolutions of the Conference, made successful representations to the Federal government regarding pensions paid to spouses of prisoners, and assisted in the development of branches and organisations in Darwin and Alice Springs.
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