Australian Red Cross has today launched its internationally-renowned prison program, ‘Volunteering for Change’ in Tasmania.
Born from the acclaimed Irish Prison’s Community Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) Program that won the 2011 World Health Organisation Award for Best Practice in Prison Health, the three-year Tasmanian pilot, supported by Minister for Corrections, Hon Elise Archer MP and funded by the Tasmanian Government is aimed at improving the health, wellbeing, and safety of prison communities.
Australian Red Cross Tasmanian Director Tasmania, Sharon Wachtel says, “Across Australia and the world, Red Cross has seen prison communities become healthier and safer places because of this program.”
“We train prisoners to become special status Red Cross volunteers, and they are empowered to take forward initiatives in community-based health and first aid,” she said.
“Previous participants have reported improved feelings of confidence and self-worth as well as new skills and knowledge which will help set them up for life after prison,” she said.
The program also embeds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, recognising the overrepresentation of First Nations peoples in custody, and engages with external stakeholders as part of its community development approach.
Australian Red Cross runs similar programs at St Helier’s Correctional (Muswellbrook, NSW); Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre (QLD); Adelaide Women’s Prison (SA) and Acacia Prison (Wooroloo,WA).
“This program has been an incredible success. We’ve seen in places like Townsville a 13% decrease in recidivism rates among program participants, 15% decrease in prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, a 23% decrease in self-harm and a 66% decrease in possessions of illicit substances among other notable improvements, and we have high hopes for our Tasmanian program outcomes,” says Ms Wachtel.
The program will be delivered at Mary Hutchinson Women’s Prison in the first year and then expanded to the Ron Barwick Prison, both located in Risdon Vale.
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