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​Offenders learn how to talk to the animals at prison wildlife care centre

Published date: Thursday 7 June 2018

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Male offenders are learning about animal care under the supervision of TAFE NSW Richmond staff and gaining valuable hands-on experience with native wildlife – such as wombats, snakes and emus - at a prison in Sydney’s west.

The Corrective Services NSW Wildlife Care Centre, at the John Morony Correctional Complex, in Windsor, has become a valuable educational resource for TAFE NSW teachers due to the variety of animals in its care.

Senior Overseer Ian Mitchell, who has been managing the centre for the past few years, said CSNSW was grateful for the assistance TAFE NSW provided to the offenders.

“Some inmates have the opportunity to gain a Certificate II in Animal Care and the work they do at the centre provides the offenders with transferrable skills,” Mr Mitchell said.

“TAFE NSW teachers have provided onsite training over the past decade, giving previously unskilled inmates the knowledge and experience to find employment across a wider range of workplaces, post release.”

During that same period the centre has provided the opportunity for up to 60 TAFE NSW students each year to receive practical training, separate to the offenders, as part of their Captive Animals Certificate III or IV.

TAFE NSW teacher and Animal Science Course Co-ordinator Graeme Phipps said the diversity of the animals at the centre allows students to gain experience with a broad range of species.

“As part of the course the students are taught the process of animal care for various native birds, reptiles and marsupials - from rescue and rehabilitation, to release,” Mr Phipps said.

“This might involve helping a water fowl regain its strength at the centre after it has been treated by a veterinarian for a broken wing, or caring for a wombat that had been injured in a road accident.

“The students usually conduct their work placement over the weekend, which gives the inmates an opportunity to attend visits at the prison.”

Minimum-security inmates from the Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre are carefully selected to participate in the program.

There are around 250 animals housed at the centre at any one time, where quality temporary care is provided to wildlife that may have been abandoned, distressed, involved in a seizure, attacked by other animals or suffered other injuries.

“In most cases, the intention is to return the fauna back to their natural habitat or most appropriate environment,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Each offender takes care of a particular animal enclosure such as the reptiles or the birds, which teaches the inmates to take responsibility through ownership.”

​Offenders learn how to talk to the animals at prison wildlife care centre