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First graduates of inmate program ready for next big step

Yallul Kaliarna means 'always spread your wings' in Wiradjuri. It's the name of the Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program for female offenders at Dillwynia Correctional Centre near Windsor.

The first five inmates graduated from the program on Friday after an intensive 11 months. The women shared their proud moment with family and friends during a formal ceremony at the prison. Program Director Ivan Calder and Therapeutic Manager Rachel Hart presented certificates to the group and congratulated them on their big achievement.

Yallul Kaliarna is a holistic, therapeutic community designed to help female offenders explore the impact that drugs and alcohol have played in their lives. It is specifically for offenders who have a drug and/or alcohol problem which is linked to their offending behaviour. It aims to help them gain an understanding of their substance dependence and offending behaviour, reduce the likelihood of re-offending and give them the skills, resources and support needed to return to the community, alcohol and/or drug-free and crime-free.

To complete the program they must participate in therapeutic group work and group treatment sessions. They have to regularly meet with program facilitators and psychologists to review their participation and progress, and undertake urinalysis. The inmates must also engage in education or employment while in custody.

Treatment staff work with custodial officers, overseers and education, programs, and classification staff alongside the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network and external agencies. External service providers support the women when they're released into the community.

The graduates have been preparing for their next big step – reintegrating back into the community. Director Ivan Calder described it as the most challenging part of the program.

"Housing, employment, navigating services, reconnecting with family and friends, adjusting to community living after gaol, can be stressful and can sometimes lead to relapse and or re-offending," he said. "The team hopes the female offenders have been prepared well and will embark on a better future which will lead to more options and better choices."