Jobs for offenders

Corrections’ new recruitment service is finding early success, with 140 offenders placed in permanent employment in just three months.

“Stable employment is a major factor to helping offenders lead better, crime-free lives. It is good for the offenders, their families and the communities they live and work in,” Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.

This Way for Work, established last October, is a two-year pilot programme aimed at supporting former prisoners and community offenders into stable employment and reducing the reoffending rate.

Eight in-house recruitment consultants work one-on-one with offenders around the country to match them with employers.

If needed, offenders are also given Employer Starter Packs which offer some financial assistance to support them into work. This may include transport costs, equipment or uniforms, training, licence fees and drug-testing costs.

“Finding 140 places in three months, which has included the traditionally quiet Christmas period, is a great start. I look forward to even greater outcomes as the programme gathers pace,” says Ms Upston.

“While offenders may have done work and skills training and education programmes, they may have limited practical knowledge and resources to translate this into stable employment. This Way to Work is designed to fill that gap.

“Having a criminal record can mean unemployment and barriers to the workforce. This programme is breaking down those barriers and supporting many offenders off benefits and into employment where they have the best chance of succeeding,” Ms Upston says.

The $2.5 million pilot programme complements a $15.3 million Budget 2016 investment over three years for a trial targeted at increasing the employment prospects of released prisoners.

Work and Income case managers and professionals work with prisoners from 10 weeks before release to up to 12 months after to help them prepare, find and stay in employment to help reduce reoffending.