Article via ABC Mid West & Wheatbelt
A Mid West conservation and land management program is skilling up prisoners in Greenough and reducing the rate of re-offending.
Greg Burrows, Aboriginal Program Manager for NACC said, “There has been great support from the partners involved and a great deal of work has been achieved that benefits the environment that otherwise may not have been done.”
It is a part of the Department of Corrective Services’ commitment to reducing rates of Aboriginal incarceration and is now in its second year of improving education and employment opportunities.
Dennis Gilleland, Assistant Superintendent Offender Services at the Greenough Regional Prison said, “A lot of the guys that are in prison haven’t done a lot of meaningful work, so this [program] gives them an opportunity to understand what it is to work and in this case, to provide a service to the community at the same time.”
The program includes management and control of weeds of national significance, including African boxthorn and lantana.
Other work includes rabbit control, protection work for declared rare flora, and revegetation of trees.
“I really enjoy getting out into the environment and always learning something new, I really like it,” one prisoner, who cannot be identified, said.
Mr Gilleland said, “Certainly there are some very nasty people within prison, we can’t hide from that. Those people don’t generally end up on programs like this.
“These are generally guys who would have been living next door to you, they’ve either gotten full of drink or drugs and done something really dumb that I’m guessing most of the community has done at some point and haven’t got in trouble for, but these guys have.
“They’ve been caught and sent to prison. And if we can in some way give them some directions so that when they get out of prison and life’s a better place for them, then that’s an obligation we’ve got to look towards fulfilling.”
The Commonwealth funded project is primarily a partnership between the Department of Corrective Services (Greenough Regional Prison), Durack Institute of Technology and the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, or NACC.