CHAPLAINCY SERVICES AND THE SYCAMORE TREE PROJECT
Chaplaincy services promote prisoner reintegration by helping offenders build personal support networks that they can continue to access after release from custody. The State Chaplaincy Board is made up of six religious organisations, including the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, the Salvation Army, Prison Fellowship Queensland and Inside Out Chaplaincy. The chaplains’ services are available to all offenders seven days a week, regardless of their faith or denomination.
The Sycamore Tree Project is run by Prison Fellowship Queensland across the state. Adam Leslie is the Project Administrator.
“The Sycamore Tree Project is a restorative justice program that is proven to reduce the recidivism of prisoners and its delivery by us is based on the bible story of the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus.
“Having conducted the program now several times in Queensland prisons, we can share some quite profound success stories and we would like to see the program grow into other Queensland correctional centres,” says Adam.
The project gives prisoners the opportunity to listen to the stories of victims. One prisoner shares his experience on completion of the course:
“For me, the most important message I have taken from this course is that victims of crime can and do forgive the offenders that have committed crimes against them, which in turn enables us as offenders to forgive ourselves. Knowing this does not mean that the offences we have committed are excused however, it does allow us to move forward with our lives in the hope we can get a fair chance within the community, and contribute to society in a positive way.”
The program is focused on allowing prisoners to understand the ripple effects of crime and how they can affect not only the victims’ lives, but also their families, friends and colleagues.