Defined Terms

Education and Vocational Training 

Below is an extract from Education and vocational training -  Govt. of WA - Department of Justice, Corrective Services Division

"The Department of Corrective Services (DCS) aims to make a positive difference in the lives of offenders through a variety of rehabilitation and education programs.

Prisoners can take part in a wide range of education, vocational, life skills and employment preparation programs while in custody.

As a starting point, education staff at each prison help prisoners with basic education and literary skills.

Adult prisoners complete either education programs such as TAFE courses or vocational training in the form of apprenticeships and TAFE certificates.

In doing this, prisoners leave prison with a better chance of finding a job or continuing their education.

If you have any queries or need more information, call the Education and Vocational Training Unit on +61 8 6250 9200.

Course information

All prisoners serving sentences of 6 months or more have their literacy levels tested when they enter prison.

The Department's Education and Vocational Training Unit (EVTU) has received State and national awards for the training it delivers to prisoners. The aim of the training is to give offenders the best chance possible to find a job when they are released so the EVTU works with the Department of Education and Training, public and private registered training organisations and a network of government, industry and social service providers.

All courses are recognised as industry standard, meaning all qualifications and certificates are nationally recognised, giving prisoners better job prospects when they are released. All courses started in prison can be continued in the community at a TAFE college or with any other nationally registered public or private training provider.

Prisoners can study the following courses on a full-time or part-time basis:

  • adult basic education
  • vocational (job) education and training
  • secondary and higher education
  • employability and life coping skills
  • pre-release and Prisoner Employment Program
  • driver education and training.

Prisoner Employment Program (PEP)

The Prisoner Employment Program (PEP) is available to minimum-security prisoners who are getting close to being released. The program teams prisoners up with paid employment, education or work experience with the hope they will continue this employment or training once released.

The aim is to improve a prisoner's chance of getting a job, an apprenticeship or a TAFE course when they are released. The program also means prisoners can develop skills and support networks on the outside, making it easier for them to successfully re-enter the community.

All payment from employers is held in a secure account for prisoners until they are released.

If you are a business interested in taking on a prisoner for paid employment, work experience or education, refer to Business with us."

Below is an extract from Offline inmates denied education and skills that reduce re-offending - THE CONVERSATION - 24 April  2015:

"Rehabilitation through education

Following their release, many offenders face significant barriers to entering the workforce. Recent research suggests that nearly half (47%) of prisoners have no formal qualifications, compared to 15% among similar age groups in the general population.

Only 14% of Australian prisoners have completed year 12, compared to 63% of the general population. These figures are even more dire for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners.

As of 2014, there were 33,791 prisoners in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders represent 27% of the full-time adult prison population. This is a grim statistic given they make up approximately 2.5% of the general population.

Perhaps most alarming is that 56% of prisoners will re-offend.

A 2008 study in the US estimated that one in every 100 adults is behind bars and more than 40% will return to prison following their release. Rates of recidivism are as high as 60% in the UK.

But for prisoners undertaking post-secondary education programs, rates of recidivism are considerably lower. In Norway, where internet access is permitted in inmates’ cells, recidivism rates are as low as 20%. In New Zealand, educational programs are helping to reduce recidivism by anywhere between 8% and 11%.

However, higher education institutions are moving almost exclusively to online delivery of courses and few universities will offer an education to incarcerated students because it is difficult and time-consuming.

This raises serious issues in Australia, as in most parts of the world, where most jurisdictions do not permit inmates to access the internet. As a result, we are faced with a situation in which prisoners could miss out entirely on the chance to study.

Although traditional forms of educational delivery using hard-copy materials have been largely successful, they do not allow incarcerated students to develop the digital literacy skills required to function in today’s society.

Education initiatives

Every day, thousands of inmates are released into the outside world —a hyper-connected, digital society that may be unrecognisable. Many will not have the digital skills they need to secure employment following their release from prison. This increases the likelihood that they will re-offend.

A number of initiatives are underway that aim to equip prisoners with skills they will need to make them attractive to future employers.

In the UK, the Open University is providing courses via the Virtual Campus, a secure network accessible by most prisons, with the aim of providing a whole higher education curriculum for prisoners.

Closer to home, the Tasmanian Prison Service developed a secure network to give incarcerated students access to Moodle - the learning management system used by some institutions.

At the Alexander Maconochie Centre in the ACT, computers are available in educational centres and in most cells prisoners are allowed to access approved websites containing educational materials and legal resources. This is the only prison in Australia that permits direct access to the internet.

The University of Southern Queensland is trialing the use of e-learning technologies (tablet computers and a version of the learning management system) that are independent of the internet but still enable students to access courses electronically.

The aim is to give incarcerated students a comparable learning experience to non-incarcerated students and facilitate the development of digital skills that will enhance their employability. The trial is being rolled out across Australia in 2016."


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