Women in prison are gaining construction qualifications through an innovative infrastructure project to upgrade the Adelaide Women's Prison's (AWP) main accommodation block.

​The women are working alongside Mossop Construction and Total Space Design to upgrade accommodation facilities which have been largely untouched since the 1960s.

Stage 3 of the U-Turn Construction project is currently underway at the site, scheduled for delivery mid-2019. This stage delivers a fully redeveloped secure accommodation zone with a community living space that includes a large kitchen, laundry and courtyard, and a new officer's station.

Currently there are 12 women participating in the project. All prisoners recruited to the project underwent an expression of interest and interview process, much similar to what they would experience in the community.   Participation gives them the ability to earn a nationally accredited qualification, Certificate II in Construction through TafeSA. This certificate provides the women qualifications and tickets in construction and traffic management including White Card, Working at Heights (elevated platforms/yellow card), Traffic Management and Tag and Testing.

The project sees all participants gain practical experience in demolition, brick laying, plastering, tiling, painting, labouring, steel work, plumbing, joinery and electrical. The project provides comprehensive experience (with contractors and tradespeople) across all aspects of construction and in all areas of a build site. The women are supported to find their strengths and interests and are mentored through specific trades and eventually into employment once released. Since commencement in January 2017, four women who have completed the project have since secured employment in the building and construction industry post-release.

The project has recently expanded with the introduction of the 'U-turn Coffee Van'. U-turn have collaborated with KIK Coffee, a social innovation organisation tackling youth homelessness. Louise Nobes is the Founder and CEO of KIK and has supported the U-turn program in helping set up a coffee van on the MOSSOP construction site. The coffee van and its operations are run by women from the Adelaide Pre-release Centre (APC) and sees them responsible for all business operations including ordering, stock control, reconciliation, food preparation and handling, coffee making and customer service. This provides them with important and relevant transferrable skills to assist with securing employment upon release.

The final stage of the project, Stage 4, is scheduled to commence in mid-2019 and will see the redevelopment of the final secure accommodation zone in the AWP women's centre.

You can view a timelapse video here of early construction work undertaken at the site.