Existing programs

9.9        While the many prison programs set out below are designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners to address their offending behaviours in culturally appropriate ways, the delivery of these types of programs is challenging given the majority are designed for male offenders and rarely delivered to prisoners serving sentences of six months or less.

9.10     The Gundi program provides work experience to prisoners, involving them in the construction of mobile homes for use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which are then distributed by the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office. The program is run by Corrective Services NSW. Participants are aided in gaining a range of skills and qualifications upon completion, including formal TAFE qualifications up to Certificate III.[14] The NSW Government advised that over 60 participants completed the program in 2017, with ‘employment options [increasing] for participants through the engagement of local Aboriginal Land Councils, mining companies, energy companies and state-wide construction organisations’.[15]

9.11     The Torch Project allows for the artwork of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners to be sold in the community, with the proceeds used to fund post-release pathways to a life outside of incarceration for the artists involved. The project elevates culture, and aims to introduce artists to the arts industry and increase self-sufficiency.[16]

9.12     The Culture and Land Management Program (CALM) allows for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners to engage in gardening and horticulture, build literacy and numeracy skills, engage in arts and crafts, and develop skills in land management. The program is run by ACT Corrective Services. Former prisoners can remain within CALM following release through optional participation in seed collecting, tree planting, and bush regeneration activities.[17]

9.13     There are other programs available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners that address various criminogenic needs. Examples include Men’s Cultural Journey, Dilly Bag, and Growing Up Kids.[18] The NSW Government submission mentioned Yetta Dhinnakkal, a working farm maintained by prisoners, where inmates are offered practical and vocational training and provide culturally relevant intensive case management.[19]

9.14     Information was provided to the ALRC about the delivery of the Driver Knowledge Test to adults in prisons and young offenders in juvenile justice centres. Corrective Services NSW, Juvenile Justice and Roads and Maritime Services NSW entered into a memorandum of understanding to make the test available to prisoners in NSW. This initiative aims to support a reduction in recidivism for licensing offences and to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a driver licence.[20] Another example is the Aboriginal Inmate Birth Certificate Program run by Corrective Services NSW that provides financial assistance to eligible Aboriginal prisoners who wish to obtain a birth certificate for the purposes of obtaining ‘qualifications, completing vocational training or accessing services. In 2016–17—working with the NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages—the program provided 800 birth certificates to inmates across the state’.[21]