Community collaboration key to success for people leaving the prison system

Published by MAXSolutions on April 22, 2024
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Starting over can be tough, especially when the odds are stacked against you.

For former offenders trying to rebuild their lives, success often hinges on the support they receive from the community.

When organisations, individuals, and the community come together, ex-offenders stand a much better chance at turning their lives around.

Health intervention is a critical aspect often overlooked when providing comprehensive support to former offenders.

These interventions are essential for addressing the psychological and physical trauma often experienced during incarceration.

Whilst individuals have access to psychologists whilst in incarceration, they require ongoing clinical intervention and monitoring upon release.

MAX provides Health Service interventions where former offenders have access to six or more sessions with our Health Service Officers where they receive not just psychological support, but also physical rehabilitation assistance.

Addressing the health barriers faced by ex-offenders is one aspect of helping them transform their lives post-release.

For many ex-offenders, low literacy and digital literacy skills are also barriers to accessing the job market.  

In its Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-2020, the West Australian Office of the Auditor General states that 80% of all prisoners in WA are at or below the skill level expected of an 11-year-old in reading and writing.

In our work engaging ex-offenders, we upskill them through short courses that address gaps in their experience or capability.

These courses equip individuals with the necessary skills for success in society no matter the context.

Overlooked skills such as financial literacy are all part of the strategy to reduce risk of reoffending.

MAX Trainer Adam Housten runs the SEE the Difference program in Cessnock, New South Wales which is targeted at ex-offenders and helps to provide the skills to reintegrate into society.

The SEE (Skills of Employment and Education) program helps students improve their prospects, regardless of background or circumstance, of entering ongoing employment or education.

Adam highlights that while each student has their own unique challenges, a common problem is a lack of hope.

“A big part of this program is about re-energising students about the future, challenging them to see past the negative and look towards a pathway of success in their future,” Adam says.

To reinforce our commitment to comprehensive support, MAX partners with organisations like Bethlehem House in Tasmania (offering round-the-clock support to ex-offenders) and Queensland’s CREST Program for Indigenous parolees (providing counselling and support to address drug and alcohol problems).

MAX also partners with Tribal Warrior to support Indigenous ex-offenders to build the foundational skills they need to move into work.

MAX customer Matthew, who had 20 years of experience in the construction industry and a period in the corrections system, participated in the program as a step towards his goals of following the footsteps of his father into a career in health services.

For Matthew, Tribal Warrior has also helped him to connect to his culture and community.

However, support mechanisms such as these tend to be isolated and not available to everyone.

Damien Martin, MAX’s Indigenous Programs Specialist based in Queensland, supports Indigenous ex-offenders through Time to Work Employment Service, a national voluntary in-prison employment service for Indigenous people.

In locations where ex-offenders are unable to access the services provided by MAX, they are referred to other service providers.

When this happens, Damien is unable to continue with the support he began providing for the individuals whilst they were still in prison.

“We’re unable to keep track of how they are doing nor provide assistance,” Damien says.

This highlights the need for a more collaborative community support system aimed at delivering comprehensive reintegration services, such as housing assistance, mental health support, and substance abuse counselling, which would strengthen holistic approaches to rehabilitation.

The JRI (Justice Reform Initiative) underscores the need for specialist services tailored to ex-offenders, a need exemplified by MAX’s Indigenous Programs Specialist Damien Martin, who brings over 20 years of experience and a strong rapport with Indigenous ex-offenders.

MAX's CHOICE Program, spearheaded by Georgina Price, further enhances employability and skills readiness, leveraging the team's expertise in navigating parole conditions and advocating for ex-offenders' rights to work through our strong relationship with Community Corrections.

“These environments and programs are complex. And at the centre of it are people with difficult circumstances. So experience is everything!” said Georgina.

Through tangible actions and practical support, MAX is committed to facilitating successful transitions into employment and society for individuals with criminal records. 

Through tangible actions and practical support, MAX is committed to facilitating successful transitions into employment and society for individuals with criminal records. 


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