NAAJA commenced a Prisoner Support project in September 2009 and a Throughcare Project in February 2010. Both are now proudly funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and are now known as NAAJA’s Throughcare Project.
We aim to reduce repeat offending by addressing the ‘throughcare’ needs of adults prisoners and juvenile detainees. Throughcare is defined as the coordinated provision of support to an offender, beginning with their initial contact with correctional services and continuing until the offender has successfully reintegrated to the community.
We have two Prison-based throughcare workers based at Darwin Correctional Centre (DCC). They assist both adult prisoners at DCC, as well as juvenile detainees at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre (Don Dale).
The components of their role includes:
- Assisting clients to develop post-release plans, in particular through the parole process. We start working with clients from the time of sentence to help start the process of thinking about the issues they will face upon their return to the community;
- Prisoners can request to see our Prison-based throughcare workers for any reason – whether it be be a legal, health, counselling or family related. In these circumstances, our role is to refer clients to appropriate service providers in a timely way.
- Specialist support to those most vulnerable. We recognise the particular vulnerabilities of female prisoners, young people, those with mental health issues or other forms of impairment, those with limited or no English language skills and those in custody who are isolated from family and connections to their home community. A large number of people in custody in Darwin are from the Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Katherine regions. Our involvement is crucial in keeping our clients connected.
Intensive Case Management
We also have five intensive case management workers who provide intensive pre and post release rehabilitation and reintegration services for a smaller number of Aboriginal prisoners.
We provide strength-based case management and referral services for individual prisoners to assist them in accessing opportunities when they are released from prison or juvenile detention. This addresses an individual’s diverse transitional needs including rehabilitation, accommodation, employment, education, training, health, life skills, reconnection to family and community and social connectedness.
We engage with Aboriginal prisoners and juvenile detainees in the six months prior to their release and continue to work with clients for six or more months after their release from custody, as determined by the client. To be eligible for assistance, clients must voluntarily want to engage with our project. They need to show a desire and readiness to make positive changes in their lives. Also, clients must be in a situation of ‘high need’. This includes
- Homelessness or marginal accommodation,
- No income, disengagement from Centrelink, or unstable income,
- Literacy and numeracy issues, and/or English as second, third or fourth language,
- Problematic family relationships. Involvement with welfare agencies, history of family violence, cultural/payback issues,
- Lack of community supports,
- Substance misuse issues, and
- Health, including mental health issues, and/or physical disabilities.
Each caseworker has a capacity of 15 clients with the coordinating case worker taking on 10 clients. A small caseload enable us to provide high quality case management support to our clients that is both rigorous and able to achieve results.
Referrals are accepted from prisoners themselves, NAAJA’s Prison-based throughcare workers, Darwin Correctional Centre’s Sentence Management team, Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre, NT Community Corrections, lawyers, other service providers and families of prisoners.
We work in the greater Darwin region, but also to selected regional and remote areas of the Top End. We regularly travel to the Katherine and Wadeye regions.
You can listen here to a story from the ABC ‘Law Report’ program in 2011 about the work we do, and the challenges our clients face.
The Indigenous Throughcare Project was also featured on the ABC’s 7.30 Report in July 2012.
The success of NAAJA’s Indigenous Throughcare Service was recognised when it won an Australian Crime Violence and Prevention Award from the Australian Institute of Criminology in 2012.