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Issued: 19 December 2016
From having a go at a barista course to sign writing, offenders being supervised in the Maitland community are given the opportunity to adapt to life beyond prison walls.
A group of 16 mostly male offenders – on supervised parole and other community-based orders – are currently involved in the Pathways to Education, Employment and Training (PEET) program where they learn a variety of skills in partnership with Hunter TAFE.
Maitland Community Corrections Manager Daniel Wilson said the program, which has been successfully running twice a year for the past three years, shows offenders there is life after custody.
“We target areas where there are skill shortages in the Hunter such as in barista and sign writing work, and give the participants realistic goals,” Mr Wilson said.
“The TAFE team provide participants with avenues of work where their criminal history and lack of education will not affect their employment chances.
“Offenders involved in the PEET program have usually served time for drug and alcohol related offences.
“A lot of people struggle to find employment post-release and are not contributing to society. We’re helping them get on the right path by linking them to work according to their interests and backgrounds.”
Other skill sets that participants can be equipped with include catering, painting and decorating, carpentry, construction and cleaning.
Mr Wilson said it was dedicated staff, in partnership with Hunter TAFE, who made the program possible.
“Participants always comment on the staff’s passion for the program and their continuous motivation,” Mr Wilson said.
Beyond work skills, goals of the program include learning team work, communication skills, perseverance, a positive attitude and punctuality.
Following the program, offenders are encouraged to apply for other TAFE courses or work opportunities through their employment agencies.