Publication date: Tuesday, 18 October 2016
Eight minimum security inmates from Glen Innes Correctional Centre, in the state's New England region, are studying welding at the local TAFE after-hours.
The innovative program is the brainchild of CSNSW trainer Bernie Francis, with a lot of help from management.
Welding is a great qualification because of its employment advantages.
Francis talked to TAFE welding teacher Hamish Moore, who'd been involved in a program with troubled school kids and knew how well they responded to learning a practical skill.
He agreed to run classes, and now eight inmates attend TAFE twice a week after their work at the prison is finished. It's a long day but they like it.
Inmate Adam O'Brien says he's attracted by both the job prospects and the opportunity to one day do his own projects in the backyard on weekends.
Russell Lute wants to be certified in metal fabrication. Michael Coyle says that when he completes the course, it will be the first qualification he's ever obtained.
Charlie Heath, the custodial officer who supervises the inmates at TAFE, says it's good to see inmates involved in something as positive as this initiative is proving to be.
"It's a great thing," says Bernie Francis. "With some of the inmates, you can see them growing in confidence from week to week."
Above: Bernie Francis, Michael Coyle, Adam O'Brien and Russell Lute
Above: Adam O'Brien uses the oxy torch