Up to 225 people leaving prison will be offered employment opportunities with textile and food wholesaling businesses over the next two years.
There are a range of employment initiatives in operation across the corrections system, which historically leverage off employment support programs and vocational training courses. Most recently however, Corrections Victoria has created new employment pathways by establishing employment focused partnerships with commercial customers.
For example, Corrections Victoria has partnered with suppliers who provide textiles and perishable food items for the Prisoner Canteens - corrections will provide trained and skilled workers, and they will deliver job opportunities for people leaving prison. The textiles procurement is expected to deliver 49 – 125 jobs for people leaving prison over the next 2 years in warehousing and general maintenance, while the Prisoner Shop procurement is expected to deliver another 75-100 jobs over the next 2 years in warehousing and food processing, with potential for both partnerships to grow in number and employment type in coming years.
These innovative partnerships are possible by leveraging off Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework and the possibilities for future expansion are game changing. With high demand for skilled and motivated employees, Corrections Victoria is well placed to help employers meet their labor market needs.
Gaining employment is a key challenge for people leaving prison. These Post Release Employment Opportunities (PREO) focus on providing opportunities to help people in prison turn their lives around through training and employment in Prison Industries work while in prison, and subsequent opportunities for post release employment.
Prison Industries provides people in prison with opportunities to enhance their vocational and rehabilitative outcomes through meaningful work and training. Prison Industries spans across the prison system, providing a real-world employment model that employs over 1400 prisoners in 65 individual industries across 13 prison locations. Types of Prison Industries include food production, metal and timber fabrication, textiles, agriculture, Landmate, warehousing, prisoner canteens and cafes for staff, prisoners and visitors.
Luke Anderson is a former prisoner who knows first-hand the value of gaining employment after leaving prison.
Although he had a rough start in life, including periods of homelessness, Luke was determined to turn his life around. “I want there to be more people like me, who get a job when they leave prison,” Luke says.
He is a firm believer in the benefits of post-release employment for prisoners, and its importance in improving self-esteem, mental health and in living a life free of crime.
Since Luke’s time in prison, he has founded three companies, including Fair Threads, which provides a web-based clothing store that sources prison-compliant clothing at low cost, to help families purchase the right clothes for loved ones in jail.
“Post-prison employment allows inmates to continue counselling and other self-improvement practices they have begun in prison and gives them the resources to pay for essentials such as food, petrol and housing.”
“These resources also enable people to reconnect with support networks such as family and community through social and sporting clubs.”
In 2020-21, the rate of prisoners undertaking education was 43 per cent and the proportion of eligible prisoners in employment was 94.3 per cent – the highest in Australia.
Participation in work-related vocational training while in prison is critical to build confidence, technical and soft skills, and reduce reoffending. Training and employment through PREO complements recidivism reduction programs, including drug and alcohol treatment, family connection programs and housing services.
You can read more about the role that work, training and education plays in the corrections system.