How Maryborough's Prison Industry saves inmates
IT'S an industry that has been behind iron bars for years - literally.
But the Fraser Coast Chronicle can reveal what life within the elusive Prison Industry is like, after being granted access to the workshops at Maryborough Correctional Centre.
An extension of Queensland Corrective Services, the program utilises the workforce within the walls of correctional centres for general manufacturing and skill-based tasks, adding a dimension of structure to the lives of prisoners.
In the timber workshop, general manager Darryll Fleming inspects the pallets that are stacked neatly in a row.
It's one of the many at the Maryborough Correctional Centre already being operated by prisoners with certified skills.
"There are three main aims of prison industries: first, to provide work skills and ethics with the intention of gaining employment on release and reduce the risk of returning to custody; second, to provide constructive engagement between prisoners; and third, as a financial component of reducing the costs of incarceration," he says.
"In broad terms, we try to replicate community standards and give daily employment for 200 prisoners every day.
"They wake up, go to work, and go home.
"Their work, like the community is subject to quality assurance and performance targets."
The industries operate seven days per week, with two shifts per day.
And for some, it's the first form of a structured regime they've been exposed to, if not the first job they've held down.
"It builds a work ethic, as some people have never had a job before," acting senior practitioner Micheelie Kunst said.
"Some of them lived unstructured lives in the community that have brought them to jail. We provide a structure that is as similar to the community as possible, and get them adjusted to a standard of community life.
"They take pride in what they do, and have a sense of ownership in what they do."
As part of the program, prisoners are able to pick up the relevant vocational skills offered through the workshops, which include certifications and training from local providers.
It gives them the extra edge to make it on their own when they are released, with former inmates able to show off their skills to maintain employment.
This part of the program helps them stay competitive in the employment market - while also ensuring local companies aren't burdened by work programs.
"We know of individuals who have achieved employment in the community, from this particular program," Mr Fleming said.
"International research links programs put in place in prisons with a reduction in recidivism. They're constantly under review because of market demand and community needs.
"It's the greatest opportunity for inmates."