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Corrections completions at all time high

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Mr Mark Payne, Commissioner, Northern Territory Correctional Services addressing graduands and guests

Graduations are always a time for celebration and recognition of achievement. They serve as an inspiration for graduates to continue their studies and make positive changes in their lives. Last week’s graduation ceremony at Holtze Correctional Centre in Darwin was no different, with addresses given by The Honourable Tony Sievers MLA, Mr Mark Payne, Commissioner, Northern Territory Correctional Services as well as the Batchelor Institute Executive Director of Higher Education and Research, Dr Peter Stephenson.

Batchelor Institute is proud to be working 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 of Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications, delivered by both Batchelor and Corrections trainers, all with the aim of increasing employability of prisoners on release.

These graduations ceremonies occur twice a year for each centre and the numbers of course completions are still on the rise, with 135 completions at this Darwin Graduation, up from 109 completions at the April graduation.  The graduates at this ceremony have demonstrated achievement of skills and knowledge in English language, Literacy and Numeracy, Visual Arts, Engineering, Cooking, Cleaning, Business and Horticulture. In addition to the VET qualifications there were also 64 forklift and white card licences issued. These skills provide opportunities for holders of these qualifications and licenses to follow new employment and learning pathways.

In Dr Peter Stephenson’s address to the graduands he affirmed, “Skills, knowledge and experience gained here can and should break the cycle of incarceration and assist you to gain employment, have job satisfaction and career opportunities, and lead productive and healthy lives.  It is our hope, that your achievements benefit you, your families and your communities in this way well into the future”.

Dr Stephenson went on to congratulate the support staff, “I would like to thank all Batchelor Institute Lecturers and staff, NT Corrections administration officers, Industries officers, Correctional Officers and all the non-custodial staff who do what they do on a daily basis to help make this outcome possible.

“The number of graduands here this morning, is also due to their dedication, hard work and coming together in support of education, training and skills development”.

Recognition for achievements in other programs were also given, including Step Forward from Sommerville and QuickSmart program from the University of New England, helping to recognise the strong impact that education and training can have.

A performance from the One Mob, Different Country dancers helped to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the graduates.

Graduations are also a time for the graduates themselves to give recognition and in the words of two of those completing qualifications this month:

“I would like to thank Darwin Correctional Centre and Batchelor Institute for giving us this chance to be together and learn. This experience helped us to have better skills in getting a job and also to help us in Community life,” one of the graduating students said.

“I’d like to send a big shout out to Batchelor for giving me this great opportunity to travel down this great art path to develop skills which were always there but I never used”.