Eleven million hours of rehabilitation, education, employment and constructive activities have been completed by prisoners in the last financial year, as part of the Working Prisons initiative, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.
Working Prisons involve prisoners in a structured 40 hour week in preparation for their release and reintegration into the community.
“Working prisons have become a key part of our efforts to turn people away from a life of crime,” says Ms Upston.
“Prisoners’ daily activities are targeted towards their individual needs. They could be studying towards qualifications, learning a trade, attending rehabilitation programmes or learning life skills like budgeting or parenting.”
Just over six million of the total hours completed have been prisoners gaining industry experience or qualifications which will help them find employment on release.
More than 35 industries operate in prisons, delivering training and employment opportunities including hospitality, laundry, grounds maintenance and asset management, farming, distribution, manufacturing, carpentry, and engineering.
“We know that having a job can help to stop someone from committing crime. It enables them to provide for their family, connect with positive support networks and develop a sense of self worth,” says Ms Upston.
Two million of the hours completed by prisoners were for rehabilitation programmes and interventions. These include intensive programmes to address violence, drug and alcohol addiction and child sex offending, and brief interventions to engage prisoners and encourage them to go on to complete further programmes.
“This year a focus of Corrections’ treatment programmes is the support provided to prisoners with mental health issues, and alcohol and drug issues,” says Ms Upston.
More than one million of the hours completed were toward education and learning activities, including literacy and numeracy courses, driver licencing training, work-related qualifications and certificates and reintegration programmes.
Another million hours was comprised of constructive activities, including arts programmes and parenting.
“The Working Prisons framework gives prisoners the opportunity to address the causes of their offending, earn recognised industry-qualifications, learn valuable skills and take part in training that can assist them in finding a job once they are released,” says Ms Upston.
“Providing this support will help prisoners take greater control of their lives, make a positive contribution to their community and ultimately reduce their likelihood of committing crime.”
Over the last financial year, the Department of Corrections made 2226 employment placements in prisons and the community.