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​Macquarie inmates call time on life of crime

Published date 27 April 2018

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Macquarie Correctional Centre inmates are calling time on a life of crime and boosting their chances of rehabilitation and employment by gaining nationally recognised accreditation to referee footy matches.

Governor Jason Hodges said around 36 inmates will complete the National Rugby League Level 1 Refereeing Course at the centre in the coming weeks.

“This program is an opportunity for inmates with low self-esteem to gain confidence and learn far more than just the rules of the game – they learn about respect, personal responsibility, goal setting and commitment,” Mr Hodges said.

“A refereeing qualification is a fantastic opportunity for the newly released inmate to earn a good income in a job they enjoy, stay fit and be involved in a pro-social activity.”

Under the National Refereeing Accreditation Scheme, Level 1 referees can adjudicate junior rugby league games and touch judge senior games. Inmates are also qualified for Level 1 touch football refereeing, which allows them to earn an income throughout the year.

Inmates are screened for suitability before being admitted to the course and must be able to pass a working with children check.

Correctional Officer and veteran NRL referee Tom Peet said qualified inmates will join a refereeing association upon their release, which will provide them with their first game appointment, referee’s uniform and a network of contacts and opportunities.

“Many of the men are passionate about rugby league, which is why the program is so effective in engaging the inmates and creating a viable path to paid employment post-release,” Mr Peet said.

“They can expect to earn around $250 a weekend if they refereed both days and an additional $150 if they refereed touch football games two evenings a week.

“After 12 months they can advance their career with experience and dedication, and progress to NRL Level 4, which would open up opportunities for full time employment on rewarding contracts and travel.”

At the Macquarie Correctional Centre inmates’ days have been carefully structured to maximise participation and access to education, employment, programs and activities.

This intense, rehabilitation-focused structure improves productivity while increasing inmates’ chances of returning to the community with better skills, education and opportunities for employment.