Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew
Forrest hopes a new deal that guarantees minimum-security
Aboriginal prisoners jobs in the mining industry after they
are released will help hundreds of people find work.
The memorandum of understanding between the Department of
Corrective Services and FMG, signed yesterday,
will give selected
inmates the chance to complete vocational training while
they are incarcerated.
Over the next year, an initial intake of eight male
prisoners from Roebourne Work Camp will take part in the
Vocational, Training and Employment Centre Fresh Start
program, which aims to change the lives of Aboriginal
offenders for the better and keep them out of jail.
If the prisoners complete the six-month program, they will
earn mining industry-related qualifications and are
guaranteed a full-time job with FMG.
Mr Forrest said the jobs that would be offered to prisoners
would all be in the mining industry, but could range from
hospitality to heavy vehicle maintenance.
He said he wanted to see the private sector engage with
State governments across Australia to help stop the
"revolving doors" in Australia's jails.
"The best way to stop it is giving people home and
self-sustainability, and you do that with employment," Mr
Forrest said. Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said
Aboriginals made up about 40 per cent of the 5400 people in
WA's prisons - a situation he described as a "heartbreaking
waste of human capital".
The initiative is an extension of the Federal Government's
VTEC program, which has offered training, support and
employment to 1500 Aboriginal people since it started in
VTEC graduate Desmond Mippi, 32, said he was in prison for
four years before he completed the VTEC program and now that
he had a job, things were looking up for him and his family.
"It's made a big difference to my life," he said.
"I've come a long way."