Margaret Quirk

Margaret Quirk

Minister for Corrective Services; Small Business

    Offenders repay their debt to society in Broome

    15/04/2008 12:00 AM
     

    Offenders in Broome are repaying their debt to society, learning new job skills and preserving an important part of the town in a State Government initiative which has been operating successfully since 2001.

     

    Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk today unveiled a plaque at Broome Cemetery, recognising the seven year partnership between the cemetery and the Government’s Repay WA program.

     

    “Repay WA is sound, commonsense philosophy in action,” Ms Quirk said.

     

    “In this particular case, offenders sentenced to community work repay their debt for the crime they committed, while preserving and maintaining a part of Broome that has great historical and sentimental significance.

     

    “The third positive is that these offenders learn landscaping, mowing and grounds maintenance skills that improve their future employment prospects.

     

    “Often, all people need is a steady job and some community support to get them back on the straight and narrow.

     

    “Research consistently shows that prisoners who are gainfully employed after their release are much less likely to re-offend.

     

    “Equipping prisoners with skills not only makes them job-ready, but also contributes to community safety and that can only be a good thing.

     

    “The cemetery work provides work experience and we have seen a big increase in the pride and work ethic of many offenders who have come through this system over the years.”

     

    Broome Shire operations manager Kent Williams said male and female offenders worked to a regular program, keeping gravesites neat and tidy and the grounds maintained.

     

    “The Shire of Broome certainly appreciates the help,” Mr Williams said.

     

    “Thanks to the Repay WA initiative, the Broome community and the Shire of Broome have gained benefits from the work of offenders.”

     

    Community work programs, which have operated since 1977, were extended by the Repay WA initiative in April 2004, when it was launched to support the abolition of sentences of six months or less.

     

    “For some offenders, a community-based order is a more fitting and practical sentencing option for the courts,” Ms Quirk said.

     

    Supervised community work saves taxpayers money, costing one tenth as much as sending someone to prison.

     

    Community-based offenders contribute about 250,000 hours of community work each year.  At any one time, there are about 1,800 community work projects operating in WA; 1,400 in regional areas and 400 in the metropolitan area.

     

    Minister's Office - 9213 7000