Community Correctional Services (CCS) partners with a broad range of organisations, including community groups, charitable and not-for-profit organisations, non-profit educational institutions, and state, federal and local government agencies. The partnerships between CCS and Community Work Partner Agencies are integral to the success of the Community Work Program.
Guidelines for Community Work Partner Agencies provides comprehensive information about administrative and management requirements for community work programs and outlines the basic principles governing the placement of offenders onto these programs.
Examples of community partnership programs are outlined below:
Graffiti Removal Program
Through its Graffiti Removal Program, Community Correctional Services partners with 30 program partners including local councils, Public Transport Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services (Housing Services) and VicRoads to remove graffiti across metropolitan Melbourne and in major regional centres.
Teams of supervised offenders use purpose-built trailers to clean-up graffiti from vandalised state and local government property, including road and rail assets, community areas and private property.
The Graffiti Removal Program allows offenders to make reparation for their crimes and supports offender rehabilitation by providing work-related skills to help increase employment opportunities.
From 2005 to the end of July 2019, the Graffiti Removal Program had removed more than 3.7 million square metres of graffiti.
To put this achievement in perspective, the amount of graffiti removed would have covered the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) playing field about 183 times.
Providing thousands of hours of service to the community, supervised offenders undertook this task as reparation for their crimes, providing more than one million hours of unpaid community work.
For enquiries regarding the Graffiti Removal Program, email firstname.lastname@example.org (External link).
Cobram Community House
Cobram Community House (CCH), located on the Murray River near Yarrawonga in the north of Victoria, is a not-for-profit training organisation that delivers hobby, health, leisure and training programs to community members and businesses. Here, offenders perform tasks such as general maintenance, gardening and cleaning under the guidance of a supervisor from the Community House.
CCH prides itself on treating everyone equally and implementing a framework to match. As with volunteers, offenders are supervised and given responsibility equivalent to their own skills and qualities.
A manager’s story
"Cobram Community House provides a fantastic opportunity to see first-hand how community work can really repay the community while also reintegrating and rehabilitating offenders. The House wouldn’t be able to operate without volunteers and the continued support from the CCS Community Work Program," said Regional Community Work Program Manager, Sueanne Johns.
Sueanne highlights an offender who was initially unresponsive to community work but, after several months, had become part of the team and once his community work hours had been completed even asked if he could continue on as a volunteer. The offender gained confidence and was able to abstain from substance abuse. While he was undertaking community work, he did not feel like he was being judged, and appreciated the opportunity to give back to the community rather than take from it.
Iramoo Sustainable Community Centre
Iramoo Sustainable Community Centre is an environmental, cultural and social meeting place championing sustainable living in Melbourne’s western suburbs. It links addressing offending behaviour with opportunities for offenders to increase their employability through the development of work-related skills. A typical day for offenders working at Iramoo involves general outdoor gardening and landscaping.
The Centre provides potential career pathways for offenders by offering participation in accredited programs, including Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management, Level II First Aid Certificate and Certificate I in Construction (provided by Kangan TAFE).
The North Western Community Work Program has been working in a successful partnership with the Iramoo Sustainable Community Centre since September 2010.
Hamilton Institute of Rural Learning
A not-for-profit organisation, the Hamilton Institute of Rural Learning (HIRL) in western Victoria runs a centre for local learning and activity groups. After HIRL placed an article in the local Hamilton Spectator newspaper calling for assistance in maintaining their building and gardens, the Barwon South West Region Community Work Program took the opportunity to lend a hand.
Each week a group of offenders, supervised by a CCS field officer, perform work for HIRL, including lawn mowing, painting, paving and tiling.
The Community Work Program has been well received and HIRL has expressed its appreciation of the work completed to date. Maintaining the Centre’s grounds would normally mean labour from volunteers or paid labour which HIRL cannot afford.
Offenders working on this team have expressed their satisfaction in not only completing their required court-imposed community work hours but also in undertaking meaningful work for the local community.
Community work teams can be deployed to assist local communities, volunteers and emergency services with disaster recovery efforts.
Following floods in northwest Victoria, offenders helped by clearing sandbags and debris, and preparing meals for community members.
As part of the Black Saturday bushfire recovery efforts, offenders assisted with rebuilding facilities for Kinglake’s young people and by replacing fencing in the Redesdale farming community. They were the major workforce used in the massive task of sorting huge warehouses full of goods donated to assist bushfire victims.
Bushfire recovery work by offenders continues today with a focus on fire prevention.
Offenders helped to clean up after regional flooding in 2011. Community Correctional Services (CCS) worked with local councils and organisations to bring relief in flood-affected areas.
Staff and community work teams from CCS were deployed in the Grampians region to assist local communities in the recovery efforts. The CCS Community Work Unit coordinated community work teams in flood-devastated areas near Horsham in the state's west. These teams cleared sandbags and debris from local footpaths and roads. Local community members were most impressed by the team's tireless efforts.
Loddon and Tarrengower Prisons provided assistance, including the clean-up near the Campbells Creek Community Centre, and prisoners made quilts that were donated to flood victims.
Bendigo CCS supported flood-affected areas including Charlton and Rochester by removing carpets and cleaning up public assets.
Mildura and Swan Hill CCS also contributed to the regional response in conjunction with the Wentworth Shire and Swan Hill City Council. Staff including CCS, Loddon Mallee Region Executive, Consumer Affairs, Sheriff’s and prison staff worked a four-day rotating shift of seven staff per day taking the Mobile Justice Service Centre (Justice Bus) to Charlton and Donald. It is estimated that 1,000 meals of lunch and dinner (along with water and soft drinks) were provided to these communities per day for four days.
Warrnambool CCS was able to provide an extra community work team to work with Warrnambool City Council staff to clear debris around the mouth of the Hopkins River and Allansford areas.
Money for Jam
This 12-week program – a community work initiative for women offenders – comprises two elements: unpaid community work (preparing and cooking jams, chutneys and relishes) and group therapy. The outcomes for the program include obtaining a Food Handling Certificate, receiving vocational guidance, learning self-care strategies, cooking meals and making preserves and enhancing communication skills.
The Money for Jam program is run by TaskForce, a community agency which provides specialist support for people in serious need in Victoria.
An offender's story
Sally 'loves the program' and is amazed to see how her life has started to change over the past 12 months. She describes Money for Jam as providing her with a sense of achievement.
Sally was initially hesitant about the group therapy component of the program. However, her experience in the group therapy with Money for Jam has led her now to look forward to this part of the day – Sally advised that she has learnt more in this therapy than when she was in rehabilitation as the topics were more meaningful. Sally felt that it was a good way of expressing herself, listening to others and engaging in an environment that wasn't as formal as rehabilitation. She says that overall the program has helped her to become more patient and learn how to interact with a variety of people.
Warehouse and transport
Reverse Art Truck Inc.
This not-for-profit organisation collects factory seconds and off-cut materials and redistributes them to schools, community groups, early learning centres and the general public. Reverse Art Truck Inc. has partnered with CCS for more than ten years and is a work site for approximately 50 offenders per week. Offenders complete their work hours sorting and distributing craft materials.
After establishing the Reverse Art Truck Inc., brothers Robert and Peter Van Os approached Ringwood CCS for assistance with their rapidly expanding initiative.
CCS contracted offenders to complete their community work hours at the site.
Throughout this decade-long partnership, the Reverse Art Truck has provided a community work site for offenders, who have performed more than 35,000 hours of unpaid community work.
Robert Van Os is the founder and facilitator of the partnership:
"Being a not-for-profit incorporation, we have extremely limited funds," he explained. "Having access to community workers gives us a workforce that we could not otherwise afford.
"One of the aspects of this partnership that makes it so successful is that it caters for a range of offender needs. Offenders feel part of a team, which directly improves their self-esteem, confidence and motivation. Offenders also feel comfortable knowing that they are working within their own capabilities to complete their court-ordered condition.
"The hard work that offenders contribute to the Reverse Art Truck is one of the driving forces behind the organisation’s continued existence. 'We couldn’t function without the offenders", Robert emphasised. "Without the partnership with CCS, the Reverse Art Truck would not be in existence and its vision of recycling and helping the wider community would remain unfulfilled."
A Gesture - food for the community
A Gesture is a not-for-profit organisation that collects surplus food from suppliers around Victoria for distribution to those in need. Working alongside volunteers, offenders complete their community work hours sorting supplies and distributing nutritional food hampers to charities and community groups.
A Gesture is the only distributor of food to charities in Melbourne's northern suburbs. The program delivers the equivalent of 1,600 shopping trolleys of fresh food to more than 800 disadvantaged families each year.
Kevin Hall, A Gesture Director, first heard about the Corrections Victoria Community Work Program from a Corrections Victoria former employee and saw it as an opportunity to engage offenders in a program that fundamentally educates them about those less fortunate than themselves.
Kevin promotes pro-social behaviour and encourages offenders to engage with the charity organisations. This social modelling approach helps offenders to understand that the wider community also experiences significant issues with homelessness, temporary housing, hunger and poverty. He assists offenders in developing empathy towards other members of the community by highlighting these issues which, on most occasions, far outweigh the challenges that the offenders may have faced. To illustrate this point, offenders, fully supervised, go out on the truck and engage with charities. This humbling experience shows the offenders that they have a community responsibility and this is often reinforced by Kevin through his role as a supervisor.
This is a 13-week structured program and gives offenders an opportunity to complete a Certificate II in Warehouse and Transport, providing them with a better chance of gaining employment.
Craft and sewing
Clothes to Developing Countries
This program sees offenders remove labels and emblems from donated uniforms which are then sent to disadvantaged communities overseas. Once labels and emblems are removed, the uniforms are shipped to Timor Leste and Tanzania for wear by volunteer doctors and nurses in remote clinics.
Offenders managed by Frankston and Dandenong CCS operate weekly in-house programs under the supervision of a field officer. in a partnership that has been operating since August 2012, NNT Uniforms donates the uniforms to the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety’s Southern Metropolitan Region Community Work Program, and Rotary ensures the garments reach Timor Leste and Tanzania.
Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place
The Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place is a joint initiative of the Victorian Government and the Indigenous community. Opened in September 2008 at the former Won Wron Prison site in Gippsland, it is a culturally appropriate 'learning place' for Indigenous men undertaking Community Correction Orders (CCOs).
A live-in program, which can accommodate up to 18 men at any one time, the Learning Place is an initiative of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement. It is part of the Victorian Government's response to the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1991). Residents can volunteer to attend or may be directed there by the courts.
The program aims to help reduce the significant over-representation of Indigenous people in Victoria's criminal justice system. The focus is on developing life skills to improve overall health and reduce substance abuse if needed, improve job prospects and reduce the likelihood of reoffending in the future. Programs include local land care and community art, cooking and parenting workshops.
Elders provide leadership and communicate traditional cultural values. This is in keeping with the name 'Wulgunggo Ngalu'. Taken from the local Aboriginal language (Gunai/Kurnai), Wulgunggo means 'which way' and Ngalu means 'together'.
The program was awarded a prestigious International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) award in October 2010.
Read the Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place brochure.
Local Justice Worker Program
Local Justice Workers support Koori offenders on orders to meet the conditions of their orders, by sourcing supervised community work opportunities in culturally-appropriate environments as well as linking in to relevant programs and services available in the community.
Local Justice Workers work with the Sheriff’s Office and Koories with outstanding fines to negotiate payment plans as well as acting as a key point of contact between local Koori communities and justice agencies.
The Local Justice Worker Program is delivered by community organisations in 10 locations across Victoria, chosen based on the daily average number of Koori offenders reporting to Community Correctional Services offices in each region.
The program currently operates in the following regions:
- Lakes Entrance
- Swan Hill
- Western Metroplitan
The Local Justice Worker Program is a community-based initiative funded through the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (External link).
The Koori Offender Support and Mentoring Program
The Koori Offender Support and Mentoring Program is a community-based initiative delivered in five communities across Victoria.
Under the program, Koori Elders and Respected Persons play a mentoring role to Koori participants who are completing community-based orders, intensive corrections orders, community corrections treatment orders or parole. To support program participants to successfully complete their orders, mentors provide advice and cultural connection.
The program is a successful collaboration between the Koori community and Victoria’s Community Correctional Services, assisting to foster close relationships between mentors and program participants and increase their likelihood of successfully completing their correctional orders.
The Koori Offender Support and Mentoring Program operates in the following regions:
- North West Metropolitan
The Koori Offender Support and Mentoring Program is a community-based initiative funded through the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (External link).
Green Wheels of Justice
Offenders have worked in the Second Chance Cycles workshop to refurbish second-hand bicycles to donate to St Albans residents at a community event promoting environmental sustainability. Around 100 residents in the City of Brimbank, in Melbourne's west, received refurbished bicycles, puncture repair kits, pumps, safety lights, riding bags and road safety information.
The Supervisor, Jed Soutar, a bike mechanic, taught offenders basic mechanical requirements and assembly of a bike. “Participants came to us with a wide variety of life experiences and skills to offer, some qualified tradesmen; others had little or no previous experience. Those who have engaged with the program have done so with such enthusiasm and commitment that Second Chance has really taken on a character and energy of its own’’, said Jed.
The Green Wheels of Justice involved a partnership between local council, Victorian Department of Justice staff in the North West Region, the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO), the Justice for Refugees program, Victoria Police, VicRoads and TAFE.