In-house training at Grampians Prisons

When Corrections Victoria expanded the employment programs at their Grampians prisons, they continued their 20-year training partnership with Federation University Australia.

The modern Hopkins Correctional Centre and H.M. Prison Langi Kal Kal are industrious hubs of manufacturing and agriculture. All able prisoners on the sites are encouraged to engage in full-time work. FedUni programs are delivered directly into the industries within the prisons, supporting learners and improving industrial outcomes. Training is delivered in a range of areas, including industry-specific skill-sets, occupational health and safety, IT, and numeracy and literacy support programs. These programs are specifically tailored to promote a safe and productive work environment whilst incarcerated, and to embed transferable skills and knowledge for the prisoners post-release.

H. M. Prison Langi Kal Kal is a large working prison. Set on approximately 2800 acres, agricultural farming is the prison’s key industry, producing poultry, cattle and sheep products. Plants are tended in the onsite nursery. Metal, wood, textile, and polymer concrete products are also fabricated at the prison in addition to various smaller services that support the prison itself.

Hopkins Correctional Centre is a modern prison supporting a range of industries including metal fabrication, wood product manufacture, and number plate production. The prison also operates a number of internal services such as the commercial-grade kitchen that caters for the entire prisoner population.

Getting the right balance of custodial practice, community protection, and preparation of prisoners for release, is supported through on-the-job learning. FedUni programs are tailored to the industry requirements of each prison, and are designed to complement prisoners’ work practices. Course materials are often customised to suit the environment. FedUni instructors deliver much of the training on the factory floor or within the farm environment, ensuring the students’ new skills are relevant and immediately applicable.

In addition to keeping prisoners active and interested, workplace training offers the opportunity to acquire the valuable, transferable skills required to undertake short-term and seasonal work or long-term employment.

More than 40 FedUni trainers regularly share their industry knowledge and substantial experience with participants at these two prisons alone. This training augments the existing qualifications of some prisoners, bringing them up-to-date with new skills and current work practices. Other participants can exit the system with recognised ‘job tickets’ allowing them to operate specialist equipment, manage traffic, or gain a construction induction ‘White Card’.

A substantial focus of FedUni training is to embed literacy and numeracy education into prison-based courses. Critical English and maths skills, designed for the prison industries, are delivered from the Foundation Skills Package. This learning is integrated into the participants’ hands-on training — keeping it accessible, engaging and reducing the overall study workload.

The FedUni approach, highlighting numeracy and literacy skills, reduces OHS risk and improves productivity — substantial benefits for any industry. Individuals experience increased confidence, a sense of achievement, and are better able to undertake their daily work. These are positive outcomes borne of engaged participation, hard work, and a very successful long-term partnership.