Flat Out has a long history of systemic advocacy. The organisation was originally formed as Women Against Prison in 1983. In 1988 Women Against Prison were funded to provide housing and support for women released from prison and their children, under the name of Flat Out Inc. For more information, see the Flat Out Herstory.
Flat Out continues to lead and participate in research and community education, seeking to inform the community and other service providers about the issues that occur for women in the prison system. Flat Out advocates for women who have experienced incarceration, and works towards preventing women from going to prison, and keeping them out of prison once they are released.
Through community involvement and education, advocacy and research, Flat Out has a strong voice in the prison abolition movement in Australia, in the hope that eventually prisons will not be seen as a legitimate arm of the justice system, but will be viewed as an antiquated, cruel and ultimately ineffective institution.
Recent systemic advocacy and social change work included the Centre for the Human Rights of Imprisoned People (CHRIP) project. CHRIP was a project of Flat Out between 2008 and 2015. The project was focused on education, community capacity building, and systemic advocacy. The work of Flat Out and CHRIP built on the intrinsic connections between service delivery and systemic social change work that has been present since Flat Out’s inception. This model ensures that the individual needs of women who are criminalised, imprisoned or recently released from prison are met alongside work to address broader structural issues such as poverty, institutional racism and violence against women.
Activities have included:
- Community education and capacity building, for example an annual Effective Advocacy Training Program, and community forums.