​New future for Aboriginal offenders at Kariong Correctional Centre

Issued: Tuesday, 18 November 2014

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Kariong Correctional Centre on the Central Coast is to become a specialist prison tasked to reduce re-offending by young Aboriginal inmates and their over-representation in custody.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard made the announcement today at the first meeting of the newly formed Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Aboriginal Advisory Council.

From early in 2015 Kariong will provide four-month-long courses and programs for 50 young adult males with sentences of under two years, with priority for Aboriginal inmates.

“Aboriginal people represent only two per cent of the State’s population but make up about one quarter of the prison population – and the above average re-offending rate means prison is a revolving door for far too many people,” Mr Hazzard said.

“That’s not good enough, and this is intended as a major step towards making sure that when people leave prison they have the skills to successfully reintegrate into the community.”

CSNSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the needs of Aboriginal inmates had been analysed. Large scale national and international studies have demonstrated that such specialised treatment can reduce the likelihood of re-offending.

“The program targets literacy and numeracy, employment skills, anti-social thinking and substance misuse. Inmates will also get the chance to undertake driver knowledge training,” he said.

Following their intensive period at Kariong, the short-sentenced inmates will be moved to minimum-security correctional centres – such as St Heliers, Brewarrina or Oberon – to engage in vocational training opportunities.

The program will involve Aboriginal elders and other community members to support and motivate the inmates.

Mr Hazzard said: “Through targeted programs such as this the NSW Liberal & Nationals Government is determined to make a difference for the better – to give people the skills to go straight when they leave jail and to reduce crime in the community.”