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Are you serving a sentence for a Commonwealth offence? A guide to parole

Are you serving a sentence for a Commonwealth offence?
Did you get a letter about your parole?
Get legal advice straight away.
Read this to find out what to do.
What do I need to know about Commonwealth parole?

There are two different systems for parole in NSW. The NSW system and the Australia wide system.

The decision about parole in the NSW system is made by the State Parole Authority. The decision about parole in the Australiawide system is made by the Attorney General or their delegate in Canberra.

The Commonwealth Parole Office is the department that puts information together for the decision maker.

If you are serving a sentence under Commonwealth law and your total term is over 3 years, release on parole is not automatic. The Attorney General or their delegate will decide your parole.

If you get a letter from the Attorney General or the Commonwealth Parole Office about your parole, speak to Legal Aid NSW straight away. Don’t ignore the letter, even if the staff at the gaol tell you that you don’t need to do anything. If you ignore the letter, you will be refused parole. Legal Aid can help you write a response to the letter.

Even if you have not yet received a letter, it is best to contact Legal Aid NSW for advice 2 to 3 months before you are eligible for parole.

How can I improve my chances of getting parole?

There are some ways that you can improve your chances of getting parole.

Good behaviour

■ Be of good behaviour and work hard. Good case notes will help you.

Courses

■ Do all the courses available to you, especially if you had a drug addiction or gambling problem before your arrest.

■ You may be refused parole if you do not do rehabilitation programs.

■ If no courses are available to you, keep notes of your requests to do courses. Keep any documents about waiting lists or cancellation of courses.

Attitude

■ Your attitude to your past offending is important. What you say about your offence could be used against you.

■ Doing rehabilitation programs can help with this.

Planning

■ Try to have a plan for your release, even if you are going to be deported.

■ Make a plan for where you will live and your support in the community.

■ If you need public or community housing make an application.

■ Think about your plans several months before you are due for parole.

■ You may be refused parole if you don’t have a plan.

What is a pre-release report?

This is a report about you that is sent to the Commonwealth Parole Office.

This is what will happen:

  1. You will be interviewed by the parole unit or community corrections office.
  2. The interview will happen several months before the end of your non-parole period.
  3. You will be asked about your attitude to your offence and your plans for release.
  4. If you have prison charges against you, you will be asked to explain them.
  5. The report will be sent to the Commonwealth Parole Office.
  6. The Commonwealth Parole Office look at the report when making a decision about your parole.
How will I know if my parole might be refused?

You will be told if your parole might be refused.

This is the process:

  1. You will get a letter from the Commonwealth Parole Office telling you that your parole might be refused.
  2. The letter will tell you the reasons why your parole might be refused.
  3. The letter will ask you to have your say in writing before the final decision is made.
  4. You can ask Legal Aid NSW for help when you get this letter.
What if my parole is refused?

There is no right of appeal, but judicial review might be available. Get legal advice without delay.

This is the process:

  1. You will receive a notice of refusal of parole from the Commonwealth Parole Office.
  2. You should call Legal Aid NSW as soon as possible for help.
  3. Legal Aid NSW will look at your situation and tell you if you can ask for an early reconsideration of the decision.
  4. The Commonwealth Parole Office must reconsider your parole within 12 months of refusing parole.
  5. You will not go to court to get parole. Everything will happen by letters.
How can Legal Aid NSW help me?

If you get a letter from the Attorney General or the Commonwealth Parole Office, Legal Aid NSW can help you respond.

If you want to send your own letter, you can get help from Legal Aid NSW about what to say.

How to contact us

Prisoners can contact Legal Aid NSW on the common auto dial list (CADL) as a free call.

Press 11# and say that you want legal advice about Commonwealth Parole. Your details will be passed on to the Commonwealth Crime Unit at Legal Aid NSW.

Friends and family of prisoners can contact the Commonwealth Crime Unit at Legal Aid NSW on (02) 9219 5076 or the Prisoners Legal Service on (02) 8688 3888.

October 2022