Churchill Fellowship Award Pesentation

A prestigious Churchill Fellowship Trust Medal win for Michelle Enbom is a win for the Marlborough Unit at Port Phillip Prison.

Michelle Enbom received the opportunity of a lifetime in 2015 as the recipient of the Churchill Fellowship offering Australian citizens the opportunity to travel overseas to investigate inspiring practices that will benefit Australian communities.  

Michelle manages the Marlborough Unit at Port Phillip Prison, a cohort of cognitively impaired prisoners, is the driving force behind a structured programme within the specialised Unit initiated as part of Corrections Victoria’s Disability Pathways programme.

Deferring her travel till 2018, Michelle was able to visit Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, UK and the USA to see what the global corrections communities are doing successfully in a similar field to inspire new ideas and innovation.

Specifically Michelle looked to countries that are in a similar position to Australia in finding a way of responding to the difficulty in managing the intellectual disability cohort due to rising numbers or challenging behaviours and the transition back into the community.

Receiving her medal in July Michelle remarked that there was such a similarity in thought around the rehabilitation of cognitively impaired prisoners, looking to the ideals of providing social skill development programs, tailored support and creating a therapeutic communities rather than solely addressing the criminogenic needs of the offender. She remarked that what struck her most was that some countries had such a profoundly different attitude to ID offenders, with many not going to prison, rather placing rehabilitation programmes within the community.

Many of the models she observed first hand model had similarities to programmes run in vastly different parts of the world. Denmark for example has prisoners placed in residential units and referred for treatment under provisions of the Psychiatric Act rather than incarcerated under the Penal code.

One of the highlights of her journey was meeting Jenny Talbot from the Prison Reform Trust in the UK; as Jenny was integral in establishing the 'No One Knows' programme, exploring the experiences of people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system to effect change.

Reflecting on her experience, Michelle is confident that the work done at Marlborough Unit at Port Phillip Prison is world leading , however whilst Port Phillip Prison is moving in the right direction, due to resources, funding and the emerging numbers hitting the Victorian prison system, there is a growing need for more focus to be on the transition back into the community.

"It is becoming increasing expensive to incarcerate any prisoner now, let alone those with special needs. The focus needs to be on how we can step them successfully into the community. I have seen excellent examples of this transition in Denmark and the USA moving to supported gated or lifestyle communities providing that transition and connection to community" says Michelle.

The medal was presented by Anne Hooker, the President of the Churchill fellowship Association in Victoria and the Youth Development Officer at Port Phillip Prison. Thanking her friend and long-time colleague for her inspiration and support, Michelle will continue to be a strong advocate that supports the idea of a future where there are purpose built communities that encapsulate family values for this cohort and to see no person with an Intellectual disability go to prison

The Churchill Fellowship Trust was established in 1965 to honour the memory of Sir Winston Churchill, provides a pathway for Fellows to access industry and community leaders from across the world, enabling the exchange of knowledge, technology and experience for the benefit of Australian Society. Churchill Fellows are ordinary Australians with extraordinary abilities and aspirations.