This presentation will outline Peter’s involvement in the development of services to support people leaving prison over the last 40 years, including the establishment of The Brosnan Centre, a post release service which was founded in 1977 for highly institutionalised, at risk offenders aged 17 -21.

In the following decade, Peter’s involvement on the Board of the Council of the Prisoners’ Aid Society which became VACRO, and on the Advisory Board of the Epistle Centre which later developed into ACSO and deep involvement in the Victorian prison system as the Victorian Catholic prison chaplain helped to shape his ideas.

This direct experience of daily engagement with prisoners and their families taught him more than social work school ever could about the reality faced by those impacted by life inside. I learnt that those released from prison most need stable accommodation, access to employment or training, and most important of all, positive social connectedness.

In 1996 the Brosnan Centre expanded into preventative and policy work, which became known as Jesuit Social Services. The new programs addressed the dual disability of mental illness and addiction, developed innovative employment training programs for those with multiple disabilities, and began community development programs in public housing estates.

With the goal of engagement, many workers with direct lived experience of prison were employed and workers were employed from a range of communities. Programs were tailored to the needs of individuals and often involved intensive, long term intervention.

Prevention led to a focus on research and policy, at both a State and Federal level. The research was based on experience and the policy commitment was to apply the results of our research to influence change.


Mr Peter Norden AO
Deakin University
Adjunct Professor

Biography: Peter Norden is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University. In 2016 he was made an Inaugural Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology.

In 2007 Peter was made an Officer in the Order of Australia ‘for services to community development through social research and programs aimed at assisting marginalised young people and offenders and to the mental health sector’.


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