Seven Western Australian prisoners will graduate this week from an innovative training program that will offer them unprecedented job opportunities as welders.
The Acacia Prison pre-release program is the first of its kind in a WA prison.
Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk said the program was an exciting addition to pre-release policies already in place in WA prisons.
“It is essential that prisoners are properly equipped to re-enter society at the completion of their sentence,” Ms Quirk said.
“This program, which has a 90 per cent guarantee of work on graduation and follow-up mentoring, goes a long way to achieving that aim.
“Research consistently shows that prisoners who can be gainfully employed upon their release are less likely to re-offend.
“Along with suitable accommodation, transportation and family and professional support, employment has been identified as the most important factor in successfully steering ex-prisoners towards a law-abiding lifestyle.
“This in turn creates safer WA communities, which can only be a good thing.
“This program is a terrific initiative for corrective services in WA and I look forward to seeing it expanded throughout the system.”
The welding program is run by Outcare, the WA non-Government organisation that works with offenders, ex-offenders and their families.
Outcare’s manager of employment and training, Stuart Taylor, said the program was the result of a successful partnership between State and Federal Governments, Outcare and Acacia Prison.
“It’s really ground-breaking stuff because there’s a 90 per cent guarantee of employment and through mentoring we can track these guys for 12 months after their release,” Mr Taylor said.
As well as learning welding, participants received training in life skills, job search techniques and assistance in obtaining a driver’s licence.
After release, graduates receive 12 months’ follow-up mentoring by Byron Pickett, father of the former AFL legend of the same name.
Acacia Prison director Andy Beck said the program was extremely exciting and should ensure that prisoners achieved success on rejoining the community.
“Acacia Prison is proud to be involved with this positive initiative,” Mr Beck said.
“The seven graduates have worked very hard to achieve this goal and are all looking forward to joining the workforce.”
Minister’s office - 9213 7000