Corrective Services NSW has accelerated the rollout of a pioneering video conferencing platform to more than 40 locations across NSW, providing vital rehabilitation programs to offenders in remote and regional communities.
The mass roll-out of the technology – which allows offenders to participate virtually in psychological or group behavioural change programs – follows a successful trial in the state’s Central West and other regional areas.
Senior project officer Natalie Talbot said the platform targeted priority offenders to ensure they had early access to programs to reduce the risk of reoffending.
“Offenders are at their highest risk of reoffending in the first six to eight weeks after leaving prison so it’s important we introduce programs at a time they’re most willing to engage,” Natalie said.
“Since the rollout, we’ve seen a significant uptick in the number of locations engaging offenders and completions in online programs across the state.
“For example, offenders with high-level anxiety prefer these programs as they’re less intimidating, others like it because there’s no risk of someone gossiping around town, some parents can access programs more easily from home after hours.”
Programs include Domestic and Family Violence, Foundations – which focuses on behavioural change, and Maintenance – an extra support program to help prevent people from reoffending.
The technology is now online at more than 40 metropolitan and regional Community Corrections centres including:
Albury, Armidale, Bourke, Broken Hill, Campbelltown, Cooma, Dubbo, Glen Innes, Goulburn, Grafton, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Muswellbrook, St Leonards, Tamworth, Taree, Tumut, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong, Wyong and Young.
Forbes Community Corrections was among the first centres which used the online program in 2018, with offenders living more than 100km away able to take part.
It was then introduced state-wide and played a crucial role in the uninterrupted delivery of psychological and rehabilitative programs as face-to-face meetings were suspended due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Assistant Commissioner Community Corrections Sandra Crawford said the community and offenders benefited from the success of the roll-out, due to a winning combination of technology and talent.
“Community Corrections officers have an intricate understanding of the technology, a focus on better outcomes and an incredible ability to guide people back onto the right path and into a safer, more positive future,” Ms Crawford said.