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are embraced by the community. They are part of the community and there is
a lot of value in having them here."
A prisoner at Kellerberrin is just as positive: "I've been in for just over 12
months now and coming out here has just made it a lot easier for when I get out
I suppose and a bit of freedom is good. It's great." A fellow prisoner agrees. "It's
unreal," he says. "The best thing that's happened to me I reckon, to come out
here working, living in the community and looking after ourselves."
Darren describes the significant input the prisoners made to the recently
completed Community Resource Centre. "It was a local government infra-
structure project and we could never have stretched the dollars without the
significant input from these guys."
"I think the work camps provide prisoners with a form of bridge back into
the community," says Darren. "And what I personally like is how the com-
munity reacts to them. It's very positive -- it's a very very positive thing from a
Kellerberrin point of view. We are more than happy to accommodate them."
Sentiments are the same in Derby, where shire president Elsia Archer says
the community embraces the prisoners from the Bungaran work camp, which
is home to 20 prisoners 27km outside Derby. "I only ever hear good things
said about the work camp," says Elsia. "It's a wonderful facility and it's great
for the town. They do a fantastic job."
Back down in Walpole, Dave remains closely involved in the work camp
as a member of the community liaison group, which provides a forum where
issues of concern can be raised.
Dave says he loves seeing the success of the camp: "It gives these guys a
History of WA work camps
1998 The first prisoner work camp was established in Walpole in the
South West. Its success led to further work camps being established
throughout the state.
2000 The first work camp for Aboriginal prisoners was established on the
traditional lands of the Millstream-Chichester National Park.
2000 Kellerberrin work camp opened to service the Wheatbelt
2001 Derby work camp was established to service the West Kimberley.
2002 Wyndham work camp was established to service the East Kimberley.
2002 Pardelup work camp became a resource to the Mt Barker community.
2005 Mt Morgans work camp opened to undertake work for the Eastern
Goldfields communities at Laverton, Leonora and Menzies.
MORE CAMPS COMING The Department of Corrective Services will
introduce two more work camps over the next two years. A 20-bed camp will be
opened as a second camp in the Wheatbelt and a 30-bed camp will be intro-
duced as a second Goldfields camp. These new camps will introduce satellite
camps -- mobile camps will be set up as part of these camps to service communi-
ties that do not have enough work for a permanent camp.
WHERE DO PROJECTS COME FROM? Projects must provide
benefits to the broad community and must be work that would otherwise not get
done -- because of a lack of community resources or volunteers. The work is usu-
ally for not-for-profit community organisations who find it much easier to access
grants when they have labour available to complete the work. Work undertaken
by the prisoners falls into the following categories:
Environmental -- tree planting, salinity control, coastal regeneration, eradicat-
ing non-indigenous vegetation, eliminating or controlling fire risks.
Recreation or tourism -- maintaining and developing infrastructure in national
parks, nature reserves, other tourist parks and rest areas. Projects include trail con-
struction, building footbridges, information shelters, barbecues and picnic facilities.
Heritage -- maintaining and restoring heritage sites and buildings of signifi-
cant historical and heritage value and in need of preservation, such as pioneer
cemeteries, homesteads and other important buildings.
Smaller local community projects -- such as 'tidy town', streetscaping
projects, upgrading community facilities such as recreation halls, erecting play-
ground equipment, roller blade or skateboard facilities for young people and
projects for small local clubs.
Disaster relief -- in an emergency situation, prisoners have played an impor-
tant role in relief operations, providing a rapid response to natural disasters such
as floods and bushfires.
OUT BUSH: Kellerberrin Work Camp prisoners on a land conservation project (left top).
Home Valley Station, where the camp spent a week camping and performing commu-
nity work under supervision in the area (left). Photos: Department of Corrective Services.
chance to make amends and they can be recognised for it. They're still not
home, they're not free, but they're working and involved with the community.
Some are shy and most are happy. They take it on that Walpole is their town.
"You could sit them in a class all day long and preach to them about what they
should be doing, but that's nothing on what they get out of these camps." sm
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