Since launching in Australia in 2018, the Community Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) program has been bringing prisoners, prison staff and Red Cross together to implement meaningful health, safety and wellbeing projects within prison communities.
Now running in four Australian prisons, the program trains prisoners to become Special Status Red Cross volunteers within their correctional facility.
Volunteers learn skills and build confidence and self-worth, which has impact on their lives beyond the prison gate.
Prison communities benefit in a range of ways, from improvements in safety and relations between prisoners and officers, to general hygiene and cleanliness and capacity to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis.
The CBHFA program, first introduced into prisons by Irish Red Cross, was designed as a community health program by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Here, the program is delivered in NSW, QLD, WA and SA, with growing interest from other states and territories.
CBHFA special status volunteers, prison staff and Red Cross facilitators work together to develop and implement projects which respond to the needs of their particular prison community. A range of different projects have been introduced across Australia, including:
Our prison numbers are growing - Up 4% in 2017/18 with 42,974 people in prison in Australia
Prison costs continue to rise - $4.7 billion total cost for the Australian Corrections system
People being imprisoned for less serious offences - 45% imprisoned for traffic offences
The number of Aboriginal people in prisons continues to rise -– making up 27% of the prison population, despite being only 3% of the general population.