Attorney General Peter Foss today congratulated a special group of probationary prison officers on successfully completing the first phase of their nine-month training course.
“Class 105 is very significant because 14 of its complement of 22 are Aboriginal, a group that traditionally has not regarded the prison service as a positive career choice,” Mr Foss said.
“Until now, only 13 of the 1,500 prison officers in Western Australia were of an Aboriginal background, so we have already doubled the numbers.”
Mr Foss said the need for indigenous prison officers had been identified in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
He said the appointment in 1999 of the Ministry’s first Indigenous Employment Co-ordinator had raised the Ministry’s profile considerably amongst Aboriginal people and there were now increasing levels of inquiries about the various careers on offer.
“Rishelle Hume has travelled extensively throughout the State educating individuals and communities about the important roles they can play in the administration of justice in WA,” he said.
“Her efforts are now bearing fruit with inquiries coming in daily for information about job opportunities and requests for application forms.”
Mr Foss said Class 105 was also the first to receive interpersonal skills training designed to equip them with the necessary skills to work with and manage prisoners who will be participating in an internationally recognised cognitive skills program.
“Every prison officer in WA will receive this training over the next two years,” he said.
“The program fundamentally challenges the way prisoners think about themselves, their offending behaviour and society and has proved to be a successful rehabilitative tool in Europe and North America.”
Mr Foss said the probationary prison officers would now spend the next six months putting their theory into practice during the on-the-job phase of their course before being posted to Roebourne, Greenough, Eastern Goldfields, Hakea, Albany and Wooroloo prisons.
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