Mr Paxman has been a lecturer at the Wheatbelt Institute, which has 8 per cent of its tudents from the state prison system, for nearly a decade and late last year was recognised as an outstanding vocational trainer by the Department of Corrective Services.
He teaches a certificate II in building and construction, certificate II in building maintenance and certificate II in furniture making in five WA prisons.
“Being able to teach in the prisons is rewarding,” he said.
“The students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but going through the course, they all develop a sense of pride and ownership over the projects.
“But while delivering training in the prison system is rewarding, it does offer its own set of challenges.”
Mr Paxman’s courses are hands-on with students planning, designing and building structures or furniture for use in the prison.
This year he has developed his classes around planning and building pergolas for the prison grounds, a shade house for a prison garden and completing paving projects throughout the grounds.
“Because of the hands-on nature of the course, I have always found the students to be very interested in the classes,” he said.
“Not only are they learning a trade, but it enables them to get out of the cells and do something positive.
“Because they are invested in the project from start to finish, I find students develop a sense of empathy.
“They understand the work that goes into either a building or a piece of furniture and they get really upset if they get damaged.
“It is an important part of learning, particularly when it comes to the students being released.”
He said he was extremely honoured to have received the award.