Online Project Showcase

Unlocked at Silverwater Women's Prison

  • Organisation:

    The Red Room Company

  • ABN or Auspicing Organisation:


  • Scope of Activity:


  • Geographic Location:

    Sydney, NSW

  • Target Groups:

    Rural / Regional


Funding Information

  • Total Funding Required (AUD):


  • Current Funding (AUD):


  • Funding Needed (AUD):


  • Tax Deductability Status (DGR):


  • Tax Concession Status (TCC):


  • DGR Additional Information:


  • Other Funding Partners:

    The Funding Network, Ian Darling

Project Information

  • Project Commencement Date:
  • 01 June 2016
  • Project Completion Date:
  • 31 June 2016
  • What issues are addressed?:
  • UNLOCKED, endorsed by Corrective Services NSW is The Red Room Company’s (RRC) unique creative literacy program that invites poets and hip-hop artists into Correctional Centres to work intensively with inmates and staff. Since launching UNLOCKED in 2010, RRC in conjunction with prison educational staff have delivered 16 programs with 200+ inmates, recording and publishing poems for students, their families and communities.

    UNLOCKED enhances literacy and creative expression for some of our most marginalised members of our community, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders students who represent almost 30% of the Silverwater Prison population.

    "The poetry produced by inmates in our Centre captured the unspoken stories of their lives, of their hopes and dreams that have never been realised or shared, of death, lost love and the dark days of incarceration. Their words revealed their humanity and gave me a window through which I could understand and engage them at a much deeper level. Seeing the world through their poems has opened the door to a much richer and more meaningful dialogue with each of them allowing for positive changes - a reframing of self …” ~ T Wilson, Drug & Alcohol Correctional Centre
  • Project Description:
  • UNLOCKED AT SILVERWATER WOMEN’S PRISON 2016 is a transformative poet-in-residence program and poetry workshop over three consecutive days at Silverwater Correctional Centre. The poetry and creative expression workshops are facilitated by two visiting female poets who will run intensive writing workshops, working with the students on every stage of the writing process, from initial exercises and experimentations, through the editing and rewriting process, to recording, performing and publishing their work in a professionally designed print anthology (if funding allows).

    A culminating exhibition and celebration of local and commissioned poetry is created to celebrate the inmates and staff poetic offerings.
  • Alleviating suffering / disadvantage?:
  • Poetry has the power to transform lives by
    - creating pathways to express emotional journeys
    - opening up ways to understand and articulate experience
    - helping women to find a ‘voice’
    - enhancing literacy
    - improving desire for engagement
    - providing women a chance to be something other then an inmate - ie ‘a published poet’,
    - assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to read, write and share poetry
    - helping inmates to reconnect with community through event/exhibition.

    "The learning outcomes are immense. There are huge benefits to literacy being delivered in this way, it is on the cutting edge." Jan Levy, Unlocked Teacher

    "I can honestly say that my experience working in these centres and seeing the positive impact the workshops had on inmates' personal abilities and confidence, and their relationships with one another is possibly the most rewarding opportunity I have ever had"
    - Nick Bryant-Smith (aka SOLO), Unlocked poet
  • Changing Policy, Practices & Systems?:
  • The educational provision within the prison system is mainly concerned with basic literacy and numeracy, and has a strong emphasis on vocational training. This has produced a system which is rigid and inflexible and largely reproduces the teaching and learning environments that have failed to engage many inmates in their previous experiences of formal education. The Unlocked workshops model and demonstrate an approach which encourages and develops confidence in written and spoken language capabilities. In doing so we hope to contribute to changing the emphasis and some of the routine educational practice within the prison system.
  • Investing in or empowering women?:
  • A high proportion of women in prison have suffered multiple forms of deprivation and abuse including low levels of educational attainment, associated with unsuccessful and problematic experiences in formal education systems. UNLOCKED workshops are designed to encourage participants to develop confidence in their writing capacity, and to embrace creative writing as means of understanding and articulating their experiences.

    Teachers and prison staff have commented on the beneficial effects that participants display including changed attitudes towards engaging in therapeutic programs and broader educational activities. The key to encouraging such engagement with education lies in providing a positive and supportive atmosphere.

    The capacity to express oneself in a clear and articulate manner is a key aspect of functioning effectively in society. UNLOCKED workshops develop written and oral literacy in women who are often diffident about their educational achievements and lack confidence.
  • Media / Promotion?:
  • RRC’s media approach is to focus on the positive personal outcomes that our poetic projects produce. Through community and media partnerships, UNLOCKED will use multi-channel marketing and promotion across digital, social, radio and print platforms to engage audiences locally through targeted arts, Indigenous, community, council and at a state and national level the campaign will focus on profiling our female poets such as Ali Cobby-Eckerman and Johanna Featherstone. A dedicated episode of 2SER FM’s Jailbreak program will feature recorded poems from Silverwater’s inmates.

    Digital and Social Media
    Indigenous communities
    Local artist and community networks
    Community Centres

    The Red Room Company
    Website visits (200,000 – 2015)
    Newsletter subscribers (1950 – Dec 2015)
    -Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr
    (3636 – Dec 2015)
    Women’s programs
    ABC Radio National
    The Koori Mail
    National Indigenous Times
    Auburn local news
    NSW Corrective Services
    Partnering organi
  • How is success evaluated / measured?:
  • Since 2010, RRC has run successful prison programs and has adopted a constant improvement strategy. Evidence of UNLOCKED successes are the endorsement by Assistant Commissioner Anne-Marie Martin, Correctional Services NSW and requests for return poetry workshops.

    To ensure quality and the best possible outcomes, our poets are trained enhancing their professional development, research, planning and collaboration with Correctional Centre Educational Staff is thorough (with pre and post course survey and interviews about the facilitator/s’ subjective experience of the participants, creation of a safe environment etc).

    RRC also creates vibrant, bespoke creative learning resources to facilitate the best possible outcomes. In Silverwater Women’s Prison, RRC will work with female poets with at least one being Indigenous so the exploration of translation and individual languages are options.

    RRC monitors our media and social media coverage and produces an Acquittal Report after each progr

Contact Information

  • Contact Person:

    Sally Marwood

  • Email:

  • Website:

    Click Here

  • Phone:

    02 9319 5090