Minimum-security prisoners from Roebourne Regional Prison are preparing to provide a valuable boost to North-West mining operations, while improving their employment prospects after being released from prison.
Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk said that up to 20 selected prisoners were undertaking voluntary, supervised work at Decca Station, 20km east of Roebourne, as part of a major training and employment project officially launched today by the State and Commonwealth Governments.
Ms Quirk said the project was geared to address two specific needs.
“The project aims to give pre-release prisoners access to Pilbara Iron’s ‘Work Ready Program’, which will give them the skills to go straight from prison into secure employment,” she said.
“Research has shown that stable employment considerably reduces a person’s chances of re-offending after they have been released from jail, so it is a very important outcome.
“The project also seeks to have an accredited driver trainer on site to help prisoners obtain their driver’s licences. This will help to reduce the number of people in the region who end up behind bars for driving without a licence.”
The Minister said TAFE would also deliver accredited vocational training to the prisoners where needed.
The State Government has committed more than $558,000, including $380,000 from the Pilbara Fund, to the project with the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, which will fund a training and employment project officer for two years at a cost of about $124,000.
The officer will co-ordinate pre-release training for selected prisoners, while TAFE and Pilbara Iron will help to arrange post-release employment with the company or its onsite contractors.
Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne Minister Jon Ford said the project would enable prisoners to be more work-ready after release.
“This program is an excellent way of getting people ready for jobs, rather than risking them to the continuing re-offending and imprisonment cycle,” Mr Ford said.
“The Pilbara Fund investment will assist the Department of Corrective Services in reducing Aboriginal imprisonment with training both inside Roebourne Prison and at Decca Station.
“The positive benefits to local communities cannot be underestimated and I look forward to seeing the results in the future.”
Ms Quirk said the State Government funding would provide for other staff at the site and any required infrastructure upgrades.
“The Decca Station project is a good example of co-operation between different levels of government and the private sector to reach practical outcomes for everyone concerned,” the Minister said.
“This project is just one of the many charitable and voluntary work projects undertaken by prisoners in this State – estimated to be worth about $1.8million a year to the WA community.”
Decca Station is a former telecommunications site used to maintain contact with ships along the Pilbara coast. It has been vacant for about 10 years, however all the buildings, plant and equipment on site have been well maintained by the Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Aboriginal Corporation.
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