More than 60 Aboriginal inmates have been provided with employment opportunities while in prison and upon their release, in a unique partnership between St Heliers Correctional Centre and Blackrock Industries.
“A lot of the guys don’t quite understand that criminal history doesn’t really affect them as much as it used to, and that there are lots of people who want to give them opportunities for employment and a better path in life,” says prison staffer Paul Boyce.
Paul and colleague Steven Moffitt are among 10,000 Corrective Services NSW staff celebrated on National Corrections Day, Friday 15 January, for their commitment to community safety and reducing reoffending.
The pair exemplifies this year’s theme – Working together to reduce reoffending – which focuses on the ways our staff assist offenders’ rehabilitation through programs, education and positive interactions.
“The aim is to get them employed,” says Paul. “It’s about creating confidence within individuals through education and employment so that they work towards making smarter decisions, developing pro-social networks and understanding that they may not be able to change their past but they can fix their future.”
The correctional centre also has successful works-release business partnerships with Mach Energy, Dreampath, Sedgman, Thiess, North West Mining and Speedy Staff Solutions.
Paul is a former parole officer from Victoria who joined CSNSW six years ago to take up the project officer role with the Gundi pathways program. He works alongside acting manager of industries Steven Moffitt, a 17-year veteran with Corrective Services Industries.
“What I love about my role is being involved with staff and inmates and instilling a positive environment for their future aspirations and giving them skills, knowledge and self-confidence so they have a life choice to not reoffend,” Steven says.
“We see them gain full-time employment – and not return to their previous way of living – and become active and effective members of the community assisting others to consider changes in order to avoid what they’ve experienced.”
Paul’s role is unique because he remains in contact with offenders for six months after they’re released from prison to ensure they’re staying on track.
“If the guys want a fresh start on release, we try and relocate them to Muswellbrook and even help them find housing, so they can get a job with Black Rock in areas such as land clearing, machinery jobs, coal washing, civil construction work and driving,” Paul says.
“To help them gain those jobs, we offer them education and training while they’re on the inside, so they can gain First Aid, white cards and other qualifications through TAFE.”
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.
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