The two-year pilot, a partnership between the Department of Justice and the National Indigenous Australians Agency, will better prepare the women for successful reintegration when they are released from prison.
Up to eight Aboriginal women prisoners will be trained in kitchen, catering and hospitality over a 16-week cycle. The women will participate in industry-recognised training up to Certificate II in Kitchen Operations, Retail Services, Cleaning Operations and Warehousing.
Skills to be taught include working in a commercial kitchen, customer service, logistics, warehousing, infection control, food handling and barista training.
The course will be conducted at the Corrective Services Academy, where the kitchen is being upgraded to industry training standards.
The kitchen and the program have been named Yirra Djinda, meaning rising stars in the Noongar language.
Program participants receive culturally safe learning and mentoring, access to Aboriginal language education and an Elders program, peer support and extended six-month post-release support to help them sustain their jobs while adjusting to post-release life.
The program directly addresses concerns Aboriginal women prisoners were not getting an opportunity to participate in the Department’s Prisoner Employment Program.
Department Director General Dr Adam Tomison said Aboriginal women prisoners would get training, accreditation, meaningful work experience and solid support from Aboriginal leaders and qualified trainers.
“We are excited to be working with the National Indigenous Australians Agency to support offenders’ rehabilitation,” Dr Tomison said.
“We believe this pilot program will create genuine opportunities for Aboriginal women offenders to secure steady employment that will help them balance work, parenting and other cultural obligations when they are released.
“We hope that this program, by creating genuine job prospects for offenders on release, will make a positive contribution to reintegration into the community and reduce rates of re-offending.”
The program was officially launched by the Hon. Steve Irons, representing the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, with Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston at the Academy on Friday, 19 November.