A new learning centre in Port Augusta, South Australia, will provide Indigenous prisoners with intensive support upon release to assist transition back into the community and provide skills to help find work.

Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation has been contracted to run the Community Transition and Learning Centre (CTLC), located at the site known formerly as the Mulga Unit at Port Augusta Prison, with the ultimate aim of integrating people back into society and reducing the risk of reoffending.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the project would help reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in the justice system.

“People who have be in correctional facilities face many barriers when they have completed their sentences,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This project will support people the entire way home – literally from when they are released, right through to helping them to settle back into their communities.

“In addition, making sure they have the skills they need to pick up meaningful work is one of the best ways to keep people from reoffending.

“Up to 120 Indigenous prisoners will complete their corrections orders, in a community residential setting with culturally appropriate support to rehabilitate, reintegrate and build their employment skills.”

“The centre will place a particular focus on helping those returning to remote communities who may not have access to post-prison services closer to home to be ready to make the transition.”

“Now Kokatha has been selected, a community advisory group will be engaged with representatives from the APY Lands, Port Augusta, the Far North and West Coast areas of South Australia, to make sure the Centre is tailored for each participant’s specific circumstances.”

South Australian Correctional Services Minister Vincent Tarzia welcomed the CTLC pilot.

“This pilot is about providing real job pathways for prisoners and breaking the cycle of offending,” Minister Tarzia said.

“It’s a great initiative for the region and a great initiative for South Australia.

“The project will also create up to 15 local jobs for Indigenous people, making sure it is the local community driving the changes to help people adjust to life outside.”

Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey MP, said the announcement will make a positive difference to the lives of Indigenous Australians.

“It is easy to underestimate the difficulties released prisoners face re-integrating with society, in returning home to family and finding employment and purpose,” Mr Ramsey said.

“These problems loom even larger for our Indigenous population, particularly those from remote communities and this program run by the Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation is aimed fairly and squarely at removing these barriers.

“If we can address the issue of recidivism, we will go a long way in reducing the over representation of Indigenous people in our jails.”

Read the media release here.