Prisoners help to build police facility 

Prisoners at work

NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson offically opens the horse stables

Charles Darwin University (CDU) selected and trained prisoners from the Alice Springs Correctional Centre were used for the construction of police mounted horse stables in Alice Springs, officially launched by the NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson on 28 February.

The $170,000 stables located at the Arid Zone Research Institute, 10km south of Alice Springs, were built after the establishment of a permanent Mounted Police Patrol unit funded by the Northern Territory Government.

A group of 14 inmates from the Alice Springs Correctional Centre modified and renovated existing cattle yards using skills developed from a custom-designed CDU learning package which included general construction, husbandry, plumbing and general maintenance, cutting across many traditional trades.

Projects included raising the original stables, installing fences, manufacturing gates, demolition of storage buildings, cleaning yards using a bobcat and installing water troughs during the four-month project.

Other agencies involved with the project were the Department of Education Employment and Training (which provided the training funding), Department of Primary Industries, Department of Correctional Services, NT Police, and the Alice Springs Council.

The NT Police originally approached CDU to provide training for apprentices with the project but with a lack of interested participants, the university suggested training low security prisoners to enhance their employability skills when released.

CDU Special Projects Officer, Bob Benson worked with the prisoners and said the course went beyond teaching basic skills.

“It’s been a great course for these men, teaching them self-respect and how to work with others and, on the whole, I found them great to work with,” he said.

CDU Thematic Team Leader, Alan Murray also worked with the prisoners and shared Mr Benson’s enthusiasm for the course.

“Many of the prisoners quickly developed quality skills which would be essential in the many large housing construction projects happening in the Territory at the moment,” he said. “And the men were clearly proud of their achievements which are critical to the success of any training outcomes.”

The prisoners learnt social and work skills such as respect, working with others, working with police, handling animals, and caring for horses. The skills included demolition, designing and fabrication use of power tools, rural plumbing, welding, bobcat operation and replacing fencing.

A former prisoner will commence further training in a joint project between CDU and Indigenous Business Australia to build transportable houses after approaching the university after his release.