The important role Indigenous culture plays in rehabilitation

Inside Tamworth Correctional Centre: the importance of indigenous culture in rehabilitating inmates

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Inmates 'latch on' to Indigenous cultural activities, correctional officers say.

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Indigenous cultural activities are one of the main ways staff at Tamworth Correctional Centre are rehabilitating inmates, and they are all for it.

The facility's senior case management officer, Sara Abberton, said offenders "latch on" to anything cultural they're offered.

About 80 per cent of the minimum and medium security inmates are Indigenous, so it's a way for them to connect with their culture while biding their time behind bars, she said.

"We run weekly programs and change it for how we can help the inmates," Ms Abberton said.

"Connection to culture is so important to them ... and accidental learning happens in the art/visitation space, as well as mentoring."

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ACM publication The Leader took a tour of the jail to mark National Corrections Day, which was celebrated on January 15, and visited this space, where a couple of inmates were completing traditional paintings.

This is just one of the activities on offer for those inside.

A yarning circle has also been developed in the outside area of the facility.

Ms Abberton said the idea for this came about in late-2019.

"We had the idea of bringing more culture in so they can sit around and have a yarn, instead of in a classroom environment," she said.

Case management officer Kami Lang said there was much more planned for the yarning circle, too.

"On cultural significant days, they'll dance, play the didgeridoo, and make sand art at the yarning circle," Ms Lang said.

"[On the fence] they're going to be putting in cultural murals with names, the local totem, and Indigenous elders will name it in language.

"And there's a portable fire pit for smoking ceremonies."

The story The important role Indigenous culture plays in rehabilitation first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.

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