Indigenous-run program training prisoners to work in the mining industry saves Western Australia Government millions – by Anthony Stewart (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – February 18, 2016)

At 34 years old, Aaron has just started working in his first ever full-time job, at a mine site near Perth. For the past 20 years he has drifted in and out of prison.

“I never ever worked before,” he says. “I’ve always just lived a life, getting into trouble with the law and then ending up back in the system.”

That all changed when he was placed in the Fairbridge Bindjareb project at Karnet Prison. The 16-week training scheme equips soon-to-be released prisoners with the skills they need to work in the mining industry.

The program is designed and run by local Aboriginal men, and Aaron says it is the first program that has treated him with respect.

“I wanted to turn my life around, but I didn’t know how,” he said. “Then I saw that Fairbridge could be an opportunity for me. They don’t treat you like a prisoner out there. That’s a big thing in itself.”

The program has a special focus on reconnecting men with their culture — something Aaron says was missing from his earlier life.

“Learning about your culture, learning about your spirit and fire. Lighting the fire within yourself to be successful. “It was there, but the program helped me tap into it.”

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