Offenders can become vulnerable in the correctional environment, particularly where they are adjusting to new experiences. In these cases, they can benefit from developing skills to better manage stress and develop resilience.

The Strong Not Tough: Resilience Program is designed to assist with coping effectively with challenging situations and transitions in life. The program uses evidence-based techniques including training, thinking in helpful ways, gratitude, identifying and building support networks, problem solving and conflict resolution.

Dr Paula Barrett, Founder of Pathways Health Research Centre and author of the FRIENDS resilience programs for children, developed the Strong Not Tough: Resilience Program following the success of her work with children as well as victims of the 2011 floods.

Developing the ability to overcome adversity and manage stress as well as the courage to embrace new opportunities, is a significant obstacle for many offenders.

Pilot programs have been delivered at Brisbane Women’s and Wolston Correctional Centres with the assistance of FRIENDS Program facilitators with encouraging results. Participants were engaged and could see the value in the program to help them cope with everyday life, difficult situations and to deal with negative emotions. This proactive program, that teaches skills promoting the well being of the individual, has received a positive response from participants as well as facilitators.

Correctional centres and probation and parole offices commenced delivery towards the end of last year across the state. Since August 2015, 55 offenders have completed the program, with another five programs currently underway and more expected to commence throughout the year.