Approximately 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. Presenting a significant win-win outcome, the project involves on-ground work undertaken by the prisoners during day-release periods to deliver significant environmental outcomes for the region.
Through the project, inmates have the opportunity to study subjects and obtain qualifications in relevant Conservation and Land Management areas that lead to a nationally accredited qualification.
In addition, the on-ground work encompasses land conservation and threat amelioration activities – such as invasive species control – that help protect the region’s biodiversity and natural assets.
As the program is designed specifically to increase Aboriginal capacity, wherever possible, all conservation work is carried out on Aboriginal-owned land or heritage sites.
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.
Participants learn core conservation skills such as weed mapping, seed collection, plant identification and propagation, erosion control, revegetation, fencing, chemical handling, and controlling/eradicating invasive species.
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.