Aboriginal Elders want to help stop adult criminals re-offending.
Elders Visiting Program chair May Rosas, an Elder with the local Wardaman/Dagoman people from the Katherine region, says the Elders in the program have an important role in mediating between Correctional Services and offenders, their families and communities.
NT Correctional Services is working with Aboriginal Elders from around the Territory on programs aimed at supporting safer communities by reducing the high rates of Aboriginal imprisonment and re-offending.
Members of the Correctional Services Elders Visiting Program are meeting in Darwin this week for the group's annual forum, and will discuss progress on programs as well as introducing new initiatives including the Community Support Program on Groote Eylandt.
The Elders Visiting Program is an innovative NT initiative that involves Aboriginal Elders from regional and remote communities working with community based offenders and those in prison to learn new skills and maintain their important family and cultural relationships.
Correctional Services Commissioner Scott McNairn says members of the Elders Visiting Program provide important support, liaison and cultural links between residents in remote and regional communities and the work of our custodial and community corrections teams.
"All Territorians share a common desire to live in communities that are safe and to know our families, neighbours and friends can grow up and thrive in a positive and supportive environment," Commissioner McNairn says.
"Building closer working relationships with organisations and elders in Aboriginal communities is a vital part of the major Prison Reform Project that Correctional Services is undertaking to reduce the high rates of Aboriginal imprisonment and rising reoffending rates.
"Supporting safer communities is a priority and by refocusing our efforts and resources for Aboriginal offenders on more culturally appropriate programs will help them to have the understandings and skills to make better choices when they are released back into the community.
Mrs Rosas says the Elders in the program have an important mediation role.
"They make a significant contribution to the successful re-integration of prisoners back into their communities and ensuring offenders on community based orders understand their obligations and responsibilities so they do not breach their orders," Mrs Rosas says.
Aboriginal Strategy and Coordination Unit director, Margeret Friel, says it is important that offenders, their families and communities can be supported to lead change at an individual as well as community level.
'The Elders Visiting Program continues to grow and is a national leader in programs based on supporting communities to lead positive change from within in a culturally appropriate framework', Ms Friel says.
Delegates to the two day forum will also hear presentations from the NT Legal Aid Commission, the YWCA's Women of Worth program and the Department of Health's Primary Health Care team.
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