Families or friends

Families of inmates or detainees may sometimes have problems with either the correctional or juvenile justice systems. It is best to first raise any issues with a senior officer at the relevant centre. If the problem is still not resolved, write to either:

The Commissioner
Corrective Services
GPO Box 31  


NSW Youth Justice
PO Box K399

Our custodial services unit deal specifically with corrective services and youth justice matters and are available to discuss any potential complaints about those agencies. You can call either 02 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524 to speak with them. If it looks like the problem needs to be a formal complaint our staff can advise you on what to do next.

The most common complaint made to the Ombudsman from families or friends are about visits – visitors being banned or treated badly by staff at the centres. Families and friends should be aware that the Commissioner of Corrective Services NSW and the CEO of Youth Justice do not need any actual evidence that someone has misbehaved or tried to bring contraband into a centre before deciding to ban them or restrict their visits. If there is any reasonable suspicion about someone, or what they may have done or be planning to do, action can be taken to ban or restrict them as visitors.

It is important to remember that many normal day-to-day objects are not permitted into either correctional or youth justice centres – this can include tobacco, lighters, money and mobile phones.

If you do get banned, or receive some other restriction on your visiting privileges, you should receive a letter from the relevant agency notifying you of this. This letter should also tell you what you can do to have this decision reviewed if you believe you have been unfairly treated, or there is other information you think should be taken into consideration by the agency before the decision about you is made final. You can also contact us to get advice about what you can do.

Often parents or well meaning friends contact the Ombudsman to complain about something that has happened to their relative or friend in custody. If the person in custody is an adult, we will usually not take a complaint from a third party (including parents or partners) unless the inmate has given them written permission to act on their behalf.

We have often found inmates do not want action taken on matters that may concern others. The inmate may believe it will cause unwanted consequences for them or they simply wish to deal with the problem in their own way. We have found it is best for us to speak with the person directly affected by the issue to find out what has happened and what they have done about it. All inmates in NSW correctional centres have free and unmonitored access to our office, either by telephone or mail, to complain about their treatment or issues affecting them. We encourage family and friends to inform the inmate of this and suggest they contact us directly to discuss their concerns.

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