Annual Reports

Department of Corrective Services

Annual Report 2006/07

In terms of offender management in custody, relevant initiatives included employing Aboriginal Client Service Officers (ACSO) to advise and support Probation and Parole Officers (although ACSO positions had been created and filled in earlier years too).  Two ACSO positions were funded to provide advice and assistance to courts to identify appropriate residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and to assist offenders to access these resources.  Aboriginal Assessment Support Officer positions were also consolidated at a number of centres, to assist in whole-of-sentencing planning and case management processes for Aboriginal offenders.  Further, to address the needs of Aboriginal offenders in custody, DCS continued to offer a range of dedicated Aboriginal programs and to ensure that relevant key policies, procedures and resources are appropriate for Aboriginal offenders (including updating the Aboriginal Inmate Handbook,(1) and providing cultural awareness training for new staff and those that work with the children of inmates and families).  More broadly, the NSW Department of Education and Training Strategic Skills Program delivered approximately 2000 hours of training targeting vocational skill development of, primarily, Aboriginal offenders at a number of correctional centres (see also 1.3.1 below)  A new correctional facility, modelled on the Brewarrina (Yetta Dhinnakal) (see below) program was also being constructed at Tabulam.

In terms of management of Aboriginal offenders in the community, funding was provided under TWT to support the Collaborative Approaches to Indigenous Family Violence and Child Abuse, and the Reducing Incarceration Initiative.  This funding is administered across a number of programs and locations. In Lismore and Tabulam, the Rekindling the Spirit program (developed in 1998 in Lismore) continues to operate very successfully, and focuses on both males and females, with specific attention to family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and child abuse and neglect.  In Dubbo, the Yindyama La family violence project is operating, working with both victims and offenders; and in Newtown/Redfern, the Walking Together Project focuses on cultural identity and family violence, and is currently being re-developed in consultation with the local Aboriginal community, which will also deliver the program strategy.  A Walking Together - Controlling Alcohol Abuse program is also being developed.   The Department, moreover, funded a number of Indigenous community-based organisations in this reporting period through its Community Funding Program, with those organisations offering, for instance, post-release services for Indigenous women, and residential rehabilitation for male Indigenous offenders with alcohol and other drug dependence

These activities were underpinned by the development of a draft five-year Aboriginal Strategic Plan 2007-2012, which is aligned with the whole-of-government approach in relation to Indigenous affairs (yet to be released). 

Annual Report 2005/06

The Brewarrina (Yetta Dhinnikal) program won the Gold Award at the NSW Premier's Public Sector Awards in the Social Justice Category in this reporting period.  The Program is situated on a rural, farming property, where young Aboriginal offenders participating in the program are taught skills in horticulture, agriculture and a range of other practical skills, including small motor maintenance, welding, road sealing, building skills, literacy and numeracy and first aid.  Respected Aboriginal Elders visit the program and instruct offenders on Aboriginal heritage and culture.  Where possible, the program actively seeks the participation of the inmate's family in their case management.  In addition, offenders attend courses aimed at problematic behaviour, including courses targeting substance abuse, relapse prevention, anger management, domestic violence and drink driving. The Department has indicated elsewhere that the lower than average re-offending rate for young offenders who have passed through the outback centre demonstrates that the Yetta Dhinnakkal Program is working, (2)  The Yaruun Ngura Mayi cultural program was also offered to Aboriginal sexual offenders in custody (under the CUBIT program), developed in consultation with local community members.

Annual Report 2004/05

Aspects of the Aboriginal Strategic Plan were implemented in this reporting period, including programs at St Heliers Correctional Centre to cater for the special needs of indigenous offenders through new motor maintenance and Aboriginal art and history courses; and partnering with graziers in the Bathurst area to train Aboriginal offenders in shearing, wool classing and rouse-abouting.  During the year, the Aboriginal Network Steering Committee was also established to provide correctional centres and staff with advice regarding programs and services appropriate to the female indigenous population within the Women's Facilities and Services Command, and to support indigenous custodial and non-custodial staff in developing a career within the Department. 

Programs other than those set out above included the following:
• An Aboriginal men's group at Kempsey, to be expanded to a Family Healing Centre where domestic violence and substance abuse offenders will be granted conditional bail to reside at a culturally appropriate rural site
• Keepa Keepa - an Aboriginal Community Service Order program at Lake Macquarie - for CSO offenders to interact and work on projects such as building walking trails with elders and community service providers
• Living Together Program at Inverell involves community workers overseeing predominantly Aboriginal CSO workers in the performance of local tasks for the community
• On the Far North Coast, the Namatjira Haven project involved Aboriginal offenders (referred from the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment (MERIT) program, community and health services, and from the Department itself) refurbishing the Namatjira Haven Drug and Alcohol Healing Centre in collaboration with local Indigenous communities
• Aboriginal men, referred by community-based corrections, developed the Ancestral Trek on the Far South Coast of NSW (with offenders camping on site on a weekly basis)

Annual Report 2003/04

The Aboriginal Offenders Strategic Plan was launched in this reporting period, and the Aboriginal Support and Planning Unit began field trips to correctional centres to promote it.  To meet the needs of female Aboriginal offenders, a number of initiatives were implemented or developed during the year - including video visits for ATSI Offenders with children in remote locations; research, training and consultancy for Aboriginal family and community history; Aboriginal Mothers and Children's Cultural Camp; and Aboriginal Work Skills at Berrima Correctional Centre run by TAFE.  Strategies were also implemented to ensure that Aboriginal Women have greater access to the full range of community-based programs, including providing through provision of information about external programs.  Further, a number of resources were developed addressing health issues for Aboriginal inmates, including establishing the Community Drug Action Team (Yura Yulang) and development of a Drink Driving Program for Aboriginal youth aged 15-25 years (in collaboration with the Department of Juvenile Justice).  An educational computer program was also developed for Aboriginal women covering  health issues and targeting inmates with low literacy. 

Annual Report 2002/03

In 2002/03 a funding contract was negotiated with the Department of Employment and
Workplace Relations (DEWR) for a pilot employment program.  The funding was to provide an Aboriginal Employment Officer to help Aboriginal inmates from Cessnock and St Heliers Correctional Centres find and keep work post-release.  Also in 2002/03, and as part of the Aboriginal Offenders Strategic Plan, the Aboriginal Support and Planning Unit consulted with Aboriginal communities and organisations to:
• reform the Department's Aboriginal Taskforce Committee;
• maintain a supportive framework to the Yetta Dhinnakkal Training Centre at
• monitor and oversee the implementation of the Pinta Kulpi Elders Program within
communities state-wide (providing a basis of support for all offenders);
• encourage Aboriginal offenders to participate in Mobile Camps;
• develop the Nangy Kangar Certificate III General Construction Program;
• provide cross-cultural awareness training for custodial staff;
• develop the Maruma-Li Men's Cultural Program and the Karrka Kirnti Women's
Cultural Program to address the cultural identity needs of Aboriginal offenders; and
• hold an open day as part of its first indigenous cultural camp at Mannus with
representatives from the Wagga Wagga Elders Group, ATSIC, NSW Parks and
Wildlife Service and community service groups. 

As well as the programs and initiatives set out above, the Report points to the following achievements:
• Alternative Justice Program covering drug and alcohol abuse and anger management (with TAFE, relevant Aboriginal organizations and departments of health and AG);
• Dubbo Aboriginal Family Violence Program;
• Lake Cargelligo 2 day intensive anger management program;
• Walgett and Coonamble Men's Group, developed with local Elders and Indigenous specialists, and using resources of the Aboriginal Legal Service, courthouse, NSW Police and Aboriginal Medical Service


1. See ATSI Inmate Handbook.

2. Ronald Timbery, Senior Project Officer (Support and Planning), Aboriginal Support and Planning Unit, Department of Corrective Services (NSW), email 9 July 2008