Casuarina Prison offers the Casuarina Educational and Vocational Training Unit to inmates

A Casuarina Prison inmate at work. Picture: Elle Borgward.
A Casuarina Prison inmate at work. Picture: Elle Borgward.

BEHIND the intimidating walls of Casuarina Prison, a section of its compound essentially resembles an educational institution.

Casuarina’s Educational and Vocational Training Unit provides a variety of workshops where prisoners can gain formal qualifications, including in metal and concrete fabrication, cabinet making and food production.

Tafe and university studies are also available.

Business manager Mike Feltham said prisoners were encouraged to pursue educational opportunities.

‘Courses range from basic numeracy and literacy to further studies, including tertiary and Tafe,’ he said.

‘We aim to provide prisoners with training opportunities, an understanding of work ethic, communication skills and being able to work with others.’

As part of their metalwork training, prisoners have the opportunity to utilise their creativity by making ornaments, which have attracted the attention of some businesses.

Mr Feltham said prisoners enjoyed learning new skills.

‘In metalwork, they build items for the prison, like trailers and trolleys, and do lots of repair work,’ he said.

‘They further practise their skills by making items from scrap metal, and some have been made for businesses, which use them for decoration.

‘Workshops are designed to replicate the outside world but we ensure security and safety issues are met, as all tools are accounted for at the beginning and the end of the workshop.’

An inmate said being immersed in the metalwork facility was cathartic for him.

‘It keeps me occupied and it helps fill up the days,’ he said.

‘In prison, it is important to be focused and have something to look forward to when you wake up.

‘I really enjoy working and helping to build things, although it does get pretty hot in here during summer.’