For over thirty years Brett Collins has represented prisoners’ interests nationally and internationally. He is a Coordinator for Justice Action and a spokesperson for the Prisoners Action Group.
He has an Arts degree in Law and Economics from University of Queensland 1982 and a postgraduate Diploma in Criminology from Sydney University Law School 1984.
He is the founder and Managing Director of Breakout DesignPrintWeb, begun in 1984 that employs twenty people, serves many unions, community groups and corporations, and resources Justice Action. It employs and trains ex-prisoners, and funds itself.
In 1971 he was sentenced to seventeen years in prison. Of the ten years he served he spent long periods in segregation units classified as an intractable prisoner and troublemaker. He is the current NSW record-holder for remaining on a prison roof – 3 days. The Australian Government attempted to deport him to New Zealand after the end of his sentence but he gained sufficient community support to allow him back into the country.
He led the team defending Australian prisoners right to vote before the Senate Inquiry in 2006. Justice Action hosted the eleventh International Conference on Penal Abolition in 2006 in Tasmania. He has been involved in campaigns including reform of police corruption, the NSW Drug Summit, facilitating the Australian Prisoners Union, and production of the prisoners’ newspaper JUST US.
He has supervised hundreds of people on community service orders since 1984, managed a halfway house, formalised JA Mentoring as a challenge to imprisonment and does continuous media work.