Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates at a women’s prison near Kempsey on the NSW Mid North Coast, have learned valuable new skills while designing and building a special cultural garden.
BSI Learning delivers education and vocational business courses at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre, and assigned a group of women inmates to create an outdoor space incorporating meaningful Indigenous representation.
BSI Learning General Manager Kala Philip said the inmates delivered an impressive ‘Wellbeing Turtle Garden’ celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“The project provided an opportunity for the inmates to put into practice all of the new skills they had gained during the course, which is a key part of our training,” Ms Philip said.
“The inmates worked as a team to plan, design and schedule the scope of work, communicate with stakeholders, incorporate the chosen theme and build the garden – all while adhering to strict workplace health and safety requirements.
“To be able to connect these skills to a cultural project in an environment with so many limitations encouraged a change in mindset and behaviour, and increased engagement in learning activities.”
The project was supported by Corrective Services NSW prison staff, who assisted the inmates to define the scope of the work and budget, approved costings and provided overseers to supervise and help the inmates build the garden.
BSI Learning Correctional Education Manager Jason Toomey said the women had responded well to the project.
“The women’s feedback has been extremely positive and the Wellbeing Turtle Garden will now be a space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates to retreat to and enjoy for many years to come,” Mr Toomey said.
BSI Learning Education Liaision Officer worked on this project with the business trainer. “I’ve watched the students implement skills such as time management, working effectively with others and forward planning, and I’m confident these attributes will serve them well when they reintegrate back into the community and commence future employment.” Ms Stow said.
The inmates chose to create the Wellbeing Turtle Garden to coincide with this year’s NAIDOC Week theme – Voice, Treaty, Truth – which encourages everyone to work together for a shared future.
There are 11 inmates enrolled in the course who will attain a nationally-recognised certificate in business upon completion.