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Alice Springs Prison Education Program continues record growth

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Batchelor Institute’s Acting Director of Arts and Humanities Ms Evelyn Schaber with graduates Aileen Adamson (left), Toni Leigh Harbas (centre)

Completions of educational qualifications at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre have once again risen to new and record-breaking heights.

Since the last graduation ceremony in April 2017, certificate completions have risen from 30 to 77 – an increase of 156%. This latest graduation brings the total number of students who have completed courses at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre for 2017 to 107, which is double last year’s record-breaking completions of 53 graduates.

This increase is a combined effort of Batchelor Institute staff and Northern Territory Department of the Attorney-General Justice Officers, who are delivering a variety of courses at the centre.

Batchelor Institute senior staff were present at the graduation ceremony on Thursday, with Director of Humanities and Arrente woman Evelyn Schaber in attendance and Senior Director of Alliance Management Dr Stephen Hagan there to deliver the Directors’ Address.

“The students were very proud to receive their certificates and it was, for some, their first educational accomplishment,” said Ms Schaber.

“It was encouraging to have the women participating in the program. One of the women came and told me about her plans to continue with further education upon her release with Batchelor Institute, which is very positive,” said Ms Schaber.

“It was great once again to see the Alice Springs Correctional Centre to achieve record completions,” added Dr Hagan.

“Importantly for me, as an Aboriginal man, it was great to have Arrernte staff member and Director of Humanities Evelyn there and our Elder in Residence Harold Furber on stage as a part of the ceremony”

“If they can dream it, they can be it. I don’t want them to create obstacles in their own mind in achieving their successes. This certificate is the first step towards realising their dreams,” said Dr Hagan.

Rob Steer, Director for Custodial Operations, NT Correctional Services also spoke to the crowd and delivered the Commissioners’ address, praising the success of this collaborative program.

Also in attendance was Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan, General Manager Alice Springs Correctional Centre William Yan and Desert Peoples Centre Elder in Residence Harold Furber.

Batchelor Institute works alongside the Northern Territory Department of the Attorney-General Justice to improve the educational levels and employability of offenders across the NT. Through a Service Level Agreement, prisoners from the Northern Territory’s Darwin and Alice Springs Correctional Centres are able to access a wide range Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications, delivered by both Batchelor and Corrections trainers, all with the aim of increasing employability of prisoners on release.

By the end of 2016, there was a 141% increase on students obtaining educational certificates in the NT. This program has grown from 23 students for 2013 to 181 graduates last year.

Courses delivered include Kitchen Operations, Food Processing, Construction, Engineering, Agrifood Operations, Visual Arts and Access to Vocational Pathways. There were also 30 students who completed the unit Work Safely in the Construction Industry, also known as a White Card.

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Batchelor Institute Senior Director of Alliance Management Dr Stephen Hagan with Mr Rob Steer, Director Custodial Operations, Aileen Adamson and Toni Leigh Harbas