Journey of faith and hope

Casuarina Prison chaplains Graham Wright and Robert Jetta. Picture: Elle Borgward d426408
Casuarina Prison chaplains Graham Wright and Robert Jetta. Picture: Elle Borgward d426408

But life behind bars means extended periods of solitude and that provides inmates an opportunity to connect with their spirituality, according to chaplain the Reverend Graham Wright.

Mr Wright is an Anglican priest and has worked full-time at Casuarina for the past four years.

‘Prison provides prisoners with an opportunity to reflect on their lives,’ he said.

‘They have time to explore their spiritual side and some do find religion when they are in prison.’

Mr Wright said he engaged with inmates as ‘humans, not criminals’.

‘No matter what crime they have committed, every person is made of body, mind and spirit,’ he said.

‘We support them, particularly if they have had a death in their family.

‘We walk with them on a journey and hopefully it helps enable them to return to the community because we want to improve the lives of people.

‘I have no idea what life will be like for them when they are released, but hopefully they would have learned something, especially about themselves, that they can hold onto for the rest of their lives.’

Mr Wright said many faiths were practised at Casuarina.

‘Our role is not to evangelise, as we are chaplains to all faiths and my role is to ensure prisoners have all the religious materials needed to exercise their faith,’ he said.

Mr Wright said about 30 to 35 people attended Sunday service.

Chaplain Robert Jetta works part-time at Casuarina, where he deals primarily with indigenous inmates.

‘I am a bit of a mentor to them, I suppose they see me like an elder,’ he said.

‘I’m a bit of a sounding board and listen to how they are faring.

‘It is important to talk to them about the importance of decisions and hopefully they will make good choices on the outside.’