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Intensive programs help put inmates’ lives back on track

Publication date: Thursday 15 March 2018

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Two new units focusing on reducing reoffending among inmates on short sentences are making great strides in rehabilitating offenders and preparing them for reintegration into the community.  

The units at Wellington Correctional Centre are purpose-built to help the inmates get their lives back on track, and are two of 10 High Intensity Program Units planned for seven correctional centres across the state. 

The new units are part of a four-year strategy that demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to reducing recidivism. 

The program targets inmates on short sentences who often have limited or no access to rehabilitation while in custody.

It is based on a set of behaviour change programs and strategies that has shown to be the most effective in reducing a person’s chance of reoffending and increasing their ability to reintegrate successfully into the community.

The two units, known as HIPUs, will deliver accredited programs for up to 80 male inmates: 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates and 40 non-indigenous inmates, as well as those with domestic violence convictions. There will also be program places in the second unit for 20 female inmates.

Priority will be given to those serving sentences of less than six months but those serving up to 12 months will still be eligible.

Offender Services and Programs Manager Jennifer Ryan said the four-month therapeutic program focuses on treatment planning and reintegration needs for inmates, including linking inmates to support services that address the reasons that lead to them reoffending. 

“HIPUs focus on practical life and communication skills, family visits and access to local mental health services. This provides the offender with the ability to make a difference to his or her life, creating a safer community,” Ms Ryan said.

“The officers recruited for the Wellington HIPUs have displayed a passion towards the treatment concept of the units and are a team of dedicated professionals keen to implement the new strategy,” Ms Ryan said.

Ms Ryan said the programs target offending and anti-social behaviour related to addiction, aggression and domestic abuse, and inmates have shown an enthusiasm to participate. 

“It’s designed to help participants understand the factors that led them to offend and to develop the skills they need to reduce the risk of offending again,” Ms Ryan said. 

“HIPU inmates have been positive about their experiences with some sharing what they have learnt with non-participating inmates. These programs offer a real opportunity to break the cycle of re-offending.”