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TAFE NSW is now entering its eighth year of working with Balund-a, an innovative residential diversionary program for male offenders over 18 years of age. In order to aid the community in lowering crime rates and ensuring a safer place to live, TAFE NSW is equipping residents with theory and practical skills in order to promote successful rehabilitation.
Located at Tabulam, within the Bundjalung Nation, the facility's aim is to reduce reoffending and enhance skills within a cultural and supportive community environment.
Residents of Balund-a are required to complete either a Certificate I in Access Work Training or Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways, which includes a small motors component.
International research has demonstrated that offering targeted and effective rehabilitation services to offenders is an effective way to decrease an offender’s likelihood of reoffending. Successful rehabilitation leads to safer communities.[i]
Teacher of Career Pathways Aboriginal Languages & Employability Skills at TAFE NSW Lismore, Belinda Roberts, said residents often enter the program with a predisposed opposition to education.
“Many residents didn’t enjoy school so they assume they won’t like learning at all.
“It’s clear that attitudes start to change over a period of time. It takes patience and some good influence from others who have been residents for some time to change their behaviour and open up to a new skill.
“Education is a means of rehabilitating and redirecting someone’s life. If a resident is released with the same skills with which they came in with, they are the only skills they know how to use.”
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the aim of Balund-a is to reduce re-offending and enhance offenders’ skills within a cultural and supportive community environment.
“We are committed to rehabilitating offenders and recognise the positive impact that education, employment and training opportunities have on re-offending,” Mr Severin said.
TAFE NSW reports to corrective services on each student’s participation and attitude which can be used in official court proceedings.
Ms Roberts said it’s not just education that TAFE NSW is providing, learning new skills instils confidence and a new sense of identity for the residents.
“Sometimes a resident will know how to build a motor from the ground up, but they don’t have a formal qualification, they just need to formalise their knowledge. TAFE NSW are giving them that ticket to a job opportunity once they leave.”
To learn more about customised TAFE NSW training visit https://www.tafensw.edu.au/enterprise or phone 1300 045 737.
Media contact: Sarah Lievore, TAFE NSW Media Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org