by Kristine Winter, Deputy General Manager, Townsville Correctional Complex

Low custody prisoners accommodated at Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre have been engaging in Community Service work at the Townsville RSPCA Adoption Centre.

Projects have included maintaining the gardens and performing various tasks such as building furniture, creating gardens and planter boxes, and erecting fencing for dog exercise areas.

In April, the prisoners participated in an animal handling course alongside current RSPCA volunteers and employees. Three prisoners are now able to work directly with the animals, learning how to engage with them in a positive manner and teaching them basic commands and behaviours to assist in their adoption process.

This has been a great achievement for the prisoners as they are learning firsthand the importance of compassion, patience and positive reinforcement. The prisoners have the opportunity to work with animals that have behavioural issues resulting from neglect or abuse and need to develop a trusting relationship to encourage a positive change.

In addition to learning valuable skills, the benefits of prisoners actively engaging in this course allows for greater employment prospects upon their release, with opportunities for working at the RSPCA, boarding kennels, grooming salons or veterinary clinics where animal handling experience is a prerequisite.

Outdoor furniture made by low security prisoners at the RSPCA (above).

A prisoner practicing techniques taught at the animal handling course.