Prisoners from Serco’s Wandoo Reintegration Facility have joined forces with the Master Painters & Decorators Australia (MP&DA) and not-for-profit organisation Dismantle to develop a new community facility in Fremantle.
Dismantle’s old workshop space at Fremantle skatepark has been built into a new hub for local youth called Box Park. The shipping containers that have acted as the workshops were transformed by the prisoners as part of their rehabilitation, reparation and education program.
The Master Painters & Decorators Australia through its training and skills arm, has worked with Serco Australia which runs Wandoo, to develop a training course to give prisoners qualifications in painting and decorating they can use on release to help in employment.
About 15 prisoners then used these skills to repaint, design and refurbish the workshops to incorporate a small coffee shop, work spaces and secure storage. In addition two prisoners rebuilt an old bicycle into a mobile coffee and food stall. Dismantle CEO Pat Ryan said that the whole community was able to benefit from the work.
Serco acting director John Tinline said the partnership between MP&DA, Dismantle and Wandoo highlighted how education and community service worked towards the rehabilitation of prisoners and reduced reoffending when released.
Mr Tinline said that Wandoo was able to maintain a reoffending rate about half of the national average by focusing on key factors like improved education, skills development, programs to reduce substance abuse and maintaining links with family.
“Wandoo challenges the young men to make good decisions with their lives,” Mr Tinline said. “Programs like this build a range of skills such as teamwork and leadership and give a sense of community.”
“They are aware that by paying back their debt to society they are also preparing themselves for a time beyond prison with the skills that will help them secure work and life skills to succeed in the community. We couldn’t do this without partners like Dismantle and the MP&DA who make a significant contribution.”
Mr Ryan said it was fantastic to be part of a partnership that saw the commercial and community sectors working together to realise positive impact. “The work done by Wandoo Residents has been fantastic, especially as they guys are able to build skills or practice existing skills with meaningful projects. Thanks to their work we have a much more functional space that will continue to benefit the local community," he said.
MPA Skills Training Supervisor John Makrillos (pictured left), who trained a number of the young men, said the program allowed prisoners to progress to a certificate II in Painting and Decorating and pathway to an apprenticeship.
“We have already had several men who have started further education after they were released,” Mr Makrillos said. “They are able to learn basic skills while in prison and see an opportunity for themselves.
“Even if they don’t want to take things further they will have learnt skills to work on their homes and for family and friends, and to take part in fantastic community projects like the one here in Fremantle which has been great fun to be part of.”
Media contact: Tim Evans, +61 409 389 358
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