Inmates come full circle connecting to culture in the Hunter
[supplied by Corrective Services NSW]
Aboriginal inmates in the Hunter are using culturally safe spaces to maintain connections to culture, thanks to a Corrective Services NSW initiative to construct yarning circles in all NSW prisons.
CSNSW project officer and proud Wiradjuri woman Bianca Radburn said yarning circles – like those just completed in Cessnock Correctional Complex – completely change an Aboriginal inmate’s experience in custody.
"Too often when an inmate enters custody, he or she is away from Country and culture and we’re conscious that it can be a really isolating experience,” Ms Radburn said.
“So having a collective project – like building a yarning circle – gives inmates an opportunity to reignite their connection to tradition and their mob while engaging with staff and one another to complete the task.
“We’ve had feedback that inmates who participated in the yarning circle builds were more likely to engage with other programs that can help their rehabilitation, so it’s meaningful way to engage people, too.”
Yarning circles are part of the fabric of Aboriginal tradition and help build respectful relationships by encouraging people to sit, talk, share stories, advice and resolve issues.
Under the guidance of staff, inmates have designed, planned and constructed built six yarning circles across Hunter, Shortland and Cessnock correctional centres.
Commissioner Kevin Corcoran PSM said creating yarning circles within all NSW prisons is a key initiative developed by CSNSW’s Aboriginal Strategy and Policy Unit.
“We’re committed to supporting our Aboriginal inmates by facilitating and strengthening their cultural practices while in custody,” Mr Corcoran said.
“We know strong connections with culture help Aboriginal inmates achieve greater rehabilitative outcomes and will hopefully, in the long term, reduce their chances of reoffending.
“We’re dedicated to ensuring the physical, mental, spiritual, and cultural needs of our Aboriginal inmates are met in custody – and that we do our bit to help Close the Gap.
“Yarning circles are just one example of the many programs we have in place to support and enrich the cultural lives of Aboriginal offenders.”
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