26 September 2023

Prisoners’ study program a winner

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A joint initiative between the Department of Justice and Curtin University has resulted in more than a dozen Western Australian prisoners winning a place in this year’s Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course (ITEC).

ITEC is a pilot in-prison academic study program providing a pathway to higher education opportunities.

The bridging course, which has been tailored to Indigenous prisoners, runs for 12 months and is delivered at participating prison education facilities by Curtin tutors with support from the Department’s education staff.

Seven prisoners from Bandyup Women’s Prison (six) and Boronia Pre-Release Centre for Women (one) and six prisoners from Casuarina Prison are to begin their ITEC journey this year, while Greenough Regional Prison will roll out its inaugural ITEC program in 2023 with two prisoners.

Casuarina produced 10 successful ITEC graduates in 2021 and 2022 despite COVID-19 lockdowns.

Acting Director of the Department’s Education, Employment and Transitional Services (EETS), Abdul Abdullah said female prisoners who successfully complete the course will be among the first cohort to have done so and will hopefully pave the way for others to follow.

“We see them transform from thinking of themselves as a criminal to ‘I’m a student’ and that’s a huge shift,” Mr Abdullah said.

“They’re on a journey of self-improvement, looking forward to a future that’s better than the past.”

Course Coordinator from Curtin’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Ana Blazey said the ITEC was designed to help students to upskill academically, even if they started at a lower level due to having less educational opportunities previously.

“The prisoners earn their place in ITEC after gaining a pre-qualification Certificate II in literacy and successfully applying to the Department’s Tertiary Studies Assessment Committee for approval to enrol,” Ms Blazey said.

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