It’s not often inmates ask to extend their stay in prison, so when one offender asked Emu Plains senior project officer Jack Mahoney if she could delay parole to finish her studies, he knew his program was doing something right.
“This woman was in her mid-30s but she hadn’t been to school since Year 7,” Jack says.
“She could’ve been released to parole before we started the semester but she put it off to continue her study because she wanted to stay to achieve something with her education.
“Her goal was to go back with the education we provided her and find a job in her local shire.”
Jack heads up the Aboriginal Women’s Employment and Training Hub at Emu Plains Correctional Complex, which delivers training and establishes pre-release employment pathways for up to 60 inmates each year.
He is among 10,000 Corrective Services NSW staff celebrated on National Corrections Day, Friday 15 January, for his commitment to community safety and reducing reoffending.
The proud Wiradjuri man says the hub creates a safe place for Aboriginal women to study and work while maintaining a connection to culture.
“They feel safe emotionally and culturally working and learning among a group of Aboriginal women,” Jack says.
“We want to give them the life and employment skills so they can stand on their feet when they’re released and make the right choices to help themselves and their children.
“People make mistakes and come into custody. Our job isn’t to judge, it’s to help these people to change, to improve their lives and address their issues.”
Through the hub, women are able to gain qualifications in hospitality – including barista training – landscaping and construction. They also participate in cultural strengthening programs and art classes to explore and maintain their connection to culture.
The 2021 National Corrections Day theme is Working together to reduce reoffending, focusing on the ways our staff assist offenders through programs, education, promoting a good workplace culture and positive interactions.
CSNSW includes about 5,000 custodial officers, 1,800 Community Corrections staff, 750 industries workers, 720 psychologists and programs officers and 1,170 Security and Intelligence staff.
CSNSW media inquiries: 0419 258 290 – calls only, no SMS