Funding boosts job prospects for Indigenous inmates
A Corrective Services NSW partnership helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates at St Heliers Correctional Centre gain meaningful employment will receive an additional $1.1 million funding.
Minister for Corrections Geoff Lee said the Blackrock Industries Second Chance for Change program fosters Aboriginal employment in local mining, construction and industrial-supply businesses.
“This partnership is about equipping Aboriginal men in custody with skills and providing the opportunity to secure long-term, stable employment and post-release support,” Mr Lee said.
“Employment is a key step in helping offenders to rebuild their lives, find a valuable place in the community and overcome the stigma of their crimes.”
The $1.1 million funding will go towards mentoring, accredited training, employment services and evaluation.
Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell said since the partnership began in 2016, it has been driving lasting change for Muswellbrook, which is on Wanaruah land.
“As a mining area we know the value of attracting skilled workers for our economy and sense of community, so I’m proud to back a program that brings in more talent,” Mr Layzell said.
Inmates engaged in the Second Chance for Change initiative are prepared by St Heliers’ Gundi Program, which helps Aboriginal offenders gain valuable vocational skills and experience while refurbishing demountables for schools or building housing for Aboriginal communities.
CSNSW Commissioner Kevin Corcoran PSM said these are among many targeted initiatives aimed to address cultural needs of Aboriginal inmates.
“We know there is an overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in our prisons and we’re committed to improving their outcomes,” Mr Corcoran said.
“Evidence shows inmates who embrace these opportunities to further their education and employability are more likely to live a law-abiding life on release.”
St Heliers Correctional Centre inmates are trained and employed in business and service units including vegetable farming and processing, engineering, furniture refurbishment, ground and building maintenance, farming, laundry, housing construction and catering.