Sam* is an elderly Aboriginal woman from a remote community in Northern Queensland with complex and chronic medical conditions. Sam was in prison because her parole order had been cancelled after she committed a low-level offence while on parole. Due to her complex health needs, Sam was at a heightened risk of serious infection if she contracted COVID-19.
Prisoners Legal Service made urgent submissions to the Parole Board advocating for Sam to be released. Prisoners Legal Service explained why she was not a risk to the community, the supports she had in place, her vulnerability to COVID-19 and the need for a decision to be made before travel restrictions in her community were enforced. The Parole Board urgently approved Sam’s release.
Unfortunately, the escalating COVID-19 response meant that remote community travel restrictions rolled out earlier than the proposed date, while Sam was in transit from prison to her community. Prisoners Legal Service worked with stakeholders to arrange temporary accommodation and support for Sam. Prisoners Legal Service advised the Parole Board of the circumstances and asked for Sam not to be returned to prison for failing to reside at her parole approved address. Prisoners Legal Service then made an application under the relevant biosecurity laws for Sam to receive a travel permit to return home. The application was approved and Sam is now on parole in her community with her family and supports.