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resources.Last year marked the joint 10-year anniversary of the completion of
the Bibbulmun Track and start of the WA work camps.
From July to September of 2008, Mike completed the Bibbulmun Track
end-to-end anniversary walk. He remembers walking the section into Walpole
with some of the prisoners, prison officers, members of the community and
school kids. "The prisoners were really excited about it," says Mike. "They
were really passionate about it. They were excited at being able to contribute
back to the community."
Mike talks about the prisoners' involvement in the track before the Walpole
work camp was established. Some of the prisoners were making the pre-fabri-
cated huts in prison, while others were travelling to help build the track and
erect the huts. "I remember when we opened the first half of the track," says
Mike. "(Then) Premier Richard Court gave the prisoners an award for their
contribution. It was the first time some of them had ever received an award. I
don't think we realised at the time just how significant it was."
This recognition and the notion of doing something worthwhile and
meaningful for the community is one of the keys to the success of the work
camps. "Prisoners develop positive work values, have a great sense of respon-
sibility and enhance their self-esteem," says Kathy. "They build supportive
relationships of trust and respect with other prisoners, prison officers and
community members. This helps reduce re-offending and increases the likeli-
hood of a prisoner successfully reintegrating into the community when they
are released from custody."
Manjimup shire councillor Dave Tapley, who worked hard during the com-
munity consultation process to get the camp accepted by the community, agrees
a huge part of it for the prisoners is about gaining respect. "These prisoners have
a lot of respect from the Walpole community," says Dave. "It's soul-building for
them. It gives them a chance to do something that they can be proud of, and
they really treasure the trusting perception people have of them."
The words of a prisoner echo this: "It's good to do something for the com-
munity that people really appreciate. It's a good feeling actually. You've done
something worthwhile and people are going to appreciate it. And you can see
what you've done, which is good."
Mike is a passionate advocate for the Walpole work camp and, subsequent-
ly, for the WA work camps in general. A wilderness junkie himself, he talks
about the therapeutic nature of being in the bush. "There is a great healing
WORK CAMPS ENABLE PRISONERS TO:
• develop or re-establish daily work-related
routines and skills
• learn new skills that might improve their
employment prospects post-release
• repay the community for their crimes
• build supportive relationships of trust and
respect with other prisoners, prison officers and
• gain a sense of achievement through their
IN TOUCH: A man talks to family from the phone at Bungarun Work Camp near
Derby, right. Prisoners work on the Walpole jetty. Photos: Dept Corrective Services.
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