Education as a tool to enhance rehabilitation and reintegration has been demonstrated at Western Australia's largest prison during a graduation ceremony today.
The ceremony recognised 116 prisoners at Acacia Prison who graduated with certificates or achieved statement of attainment in a range of business courses.
The courses are delivered by CY O'Connor TAFE in partnership with Serco Australia who manage the prison.
The prisoners received their awards from Western Australian Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis in front of their families and other supporters.
Mr Francis told the group that their positive action and success would help prepare the men for a future beyond release.
He said that prisoners who developed new skills were in a position to positively contribute to community.
"Your success will hopefully encourage other prisoners to engage in education and improve their likelihood of successful reintegration," Mr Francis said.
Acacia Director Paul McMullan said that the courses provide prisoners with the opportunity to address their offending behaviour. The aim is for them to leave Acacia with the knowledge and confidence to gain employment and make a positive contribution to the community.
"Education is a key part of our rehabilitation and reintegration philosophy. Acacia actively supports prisoners undertaking educational programs and recognises they are often a vital step for prisoners to take in their transition back to the community."
Mr McMullan said the business program run by CY O'Connor complemented other vocational and education programs including traineeships and apprenticeships in industries from food preparation to metalwork and horticulture.
He recognised the State Government's ongoing commitment to education and rehabilitation through an expansion at Acacia that includes:
- New covered training workshop
- Six large general purpose classrooms with one being dedicated to computer studies
- Dedicated sound proofed music room
- Dedicated external studies class room
- Two arts rooms with store room
Importantly, many of the prisoners graduating had seen tangible changes to their own lives. One student wrote to his lecturers saying he has now changed his outlook on life and now wants "to look after my family in a real way."
Each student graduating has identified their future directions - these range from electrical traineeships to IT business and even swimming pool construction.