Brisbane Correctional Centre (BCC) Senior Cultural Liaison Officer, Don Williams is passionate about his role, and this year received a QCS Divisional Excellence Award for his efforts in the development of strategies to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners in gaining a positive sense of identity to their cultural and spiritual heritage.

“Our role in here for the prisoners is to make sure all of their cultural needs are met. It’s based on a sense of community and respect and trying to engage them,” he says.

BCC offers cultural programs for prisoners waiting for transfer to a placement centre, including art and ceramics, as well as the Cultural Awareness Program.

“This program is very important. We talk to the families and find out things these boys never knew about their heritage and for me, to watch them find out about their culture and take pride in it – that’s my ultimate goal. Many of the prisoners lack ownership of who they are.”

Don talks about his passion for sharing his strong sense of Aboriginal cultural connection with prisoners.

“We are proud people and there are far better things that these prisoners can do than come to jail.

“They’ve all got potential – the whole lot – they’ve just got to find it and we’ve got to grow that. It’s about finding potential in every single one of them and that comes down to sitting down and spending time with people,” says Don.

Don established the ceramics program at the centre as a means for breaking down cultural barriers and encouraging communication.

“In our community, our culture is about communicating through story-sharing and that’s who we are,” he says.

He acknowledges the centre’s staff play a significant role in the success of the programs. “I’ve got magic support here from the General Manager, Bernie Kruhse, Deputy General Manager, Joel Smith, Correctional Manager, Mark Granville, Manager, Offender Development, Gail Kingsford and my team, including Cultural Liaison Officers Sian Williams and Kyle Williams.”

Don has implemented a ceramics program at BCC to encourage cultural communication.