This is a first-hand account from an inmate of Greenough Regional Prison, who is currently participating in NACC’s partner-project ‘NRM Capacity Building for Indigenous Prison Inmates’. For privacy reasons, he has remained anonymous.
“I’ve been doing this project for a while now,” the inmate says.
“I am currently enrolled in a Conservation and Land Management Certificate 3; the course pretty much clears your mind and gets you out of the prison, it’s something different.
“I hope to stick to the course and get a good job down the track… It depends what you want to do and the area where the job is.”
About 95 per cent of the inmates in Geraldton Regional Prison are Aboriginal. It is for this reason that NACC initiated this innovative and highly successful project, first launched in 2013, to offer inmates an opportunity to achieve a nationally-recognised qualification in Conservation and Land Management.
Since the project commenced, 41 males and 16 female participants have completed relevant subjects in Conservation and Land Management and more than 420 hectares of high conservation value land have either been protected or had revegetation work completed. These include Aboriginal Heritage sites, rivers and waterways and conservation estates.
The prison inmate continues, explaining how the program has provided an opportunity for him to reconnect to country and gain knowledge and skills.
“The course has given me encouragement and made me more positive. You don’t know if you can do it, if you don’t give it a crack,” he says.
“We learn some important things; We went seed picking for instance, and some of those seeds are pretty expensive and they are in the backyard and you wouldn’t even know those flowers were there! It’s all been pretty good, new stuff you learn.
“When I get out [of prison] I will go to the Pilbara, on the mines and that… got a job lined up. The boss is not bad here [pointing to prison guard], he is all right. Yeah, nah, he’s the best! [laughs]!”
This project is supported by NACC, the Department of Corrective Services and Central Regional Tafe, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.