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NT Prison Education Program Going From Strength to Strength

IMG 9785 – Mr. Kevin Raby, Superintendent & General Manager, Darwin Correctional Precinct, Holtze

Mr. Kevin Raby, Superintendent & General Manager speaking at the Darwin Correctional Precinct graduation

 

Prisoners from the Northern Territory’s Darwin and Alice Springs Correctional Centres are graduating at an increasing rate with real-world training qualifications.

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

Last month, 109 students graduated from a range of VET courses, including Visual Arts, Agrifood Operations, Engineering, Kitchen Operations and Foundations Skills. This is a significant success for the program and marks an increase in completions from 89 total this time last year.

By the end of 2016, there was a 141% increase on students obtaining educational certificates. These latest numbers are in line with last year’s growth and are promising for 2017 to overtake last year’s record breaking achievements.

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. These graduation ceremonies were no different, with addresses given by The Honourable Ms Natasha Fyles MLA, Attorney General and Minister for Justice in Darwin, as well as the Batchelor Institute Director Infrastructure, Land & Environment, Dr Stephen Hagan in Darwin and Alice Springs.

Dr Stephen Hagan with a graduate at Darwin Correctional Centre

Dr Stephen Hagan with a graduate at Darwin Correctional Precinct

 

“I was happy to share my challenges in life as a young Aboriginal boy growing up in a fringe camp in segregated rural Queensland in the early 1960s where low-expectations from teachers generally were a norm, to then overcome those ingrained levels of bigotry and come out the other end of a track well-travelled, on a positive note, with a PhD,” Dr Hagan said.

“This was in essence the message I hoped these gifted students could appreciate and believe it is within themselves to achieve likewise.”

Recognition for achievements in other programs was also given, including Step Forward from Sommerville, iTalk, NT Drive Safe, QuickSmart, all helping to recognise the strong impact that education and training can have. In Darwin, a performance from the One Mob, Different Country dancers helped to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the graduates.

This program has grown significantly over the last few years, rising from 23 students for 2013 to 181 graduates last year.

A study published in the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2016, following 5 years of data collection found that ‘study in prison unequivocally reduces post-release recidivism and, on average, increases post-release employment.’

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 have finished a Certificate I in Engineering and it has given me skills that are good to have as a labourer. It has also given me a new look at different pathways for work and I am now keen to pursue a career in this field of work. I would like to thank Darwin Correctional Precinct and Batchelor Institute for providing these courses and everyone who makes it happen.’’

‘This course has prepared me for a real job on the outside when I’m released.’

IMG9961 – one mob dancers from Darwin Correctional Precinct, Holtze

One Mob dancers at Darwin Correctional Precinct

 

Words by Chelsea Heaney.