Robyn Westgate has post graduate qualifications in Criminology, Justice, and Tertiary and Adult Education. All these qualifications were gained while Robyn was serving a life sentence of imprisonment in maximum security prison. Having lived in a profoundly abusive relationship, when she was imprisoned Robyn expected no one would understand or believe her, but instead discovered approximately 90% of the women imprisoned with her had experienced at least one form of abuse.
During her imprisonment Robyn became determined to work towards improving the lot of female prisoners within the system. Recognising the strong links between violence, poverty, disrupted education and low literacy, homelessness, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, sexual assault, and regular risk of imprisonment Robyn set about studying areas that would enable her to work towards being an advocate for women within the criminal justice system.
While imprisoned Robyn tutored and mentored women into education from basic literacy, English as a Second Language and university preparation courses. Having left school herself at 14 to escape abuse she passionately believes the access to education and support are key factors to increasing women’s opportunities to break cycles of poverty and disadvantage and creating pathways for children to gain far greater advantage. During the prison term Robyn constantly fought for the right to study at a higher level. For 12 years of her 17 year sentence Robyn was also involved in the development of the Peer Support team that offered mentoring, orientation, counselling and support while also offering training and set up case management guidelines for the team members.