Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander jobseekers eager for roles as Correctional Services officers

ADELAIDE, 20 February 2018  – Media Release

A pioneering program in South Australia to train 20 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders as Correctional Services officers has attracted a flood of applications and promises to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders in the prison system. The Correctional Services Training and Employment (C-STEP) Program was launched last year by the Australian Minister for Indigenous Affairs, the Hon Nigel Scullion, with funding of $255,000 over three years, and is supported by the South Australian Department for Correctional Services (DCS).

The Australian Government selected Maxima to run the C-STEP prevocational program, which is the first of its kind in Australia. Adelaide-based Maxima is a leading national provider of employment and training services for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders. The objectives of C-STEP are to attract potential employees for DCS who can make an impact in reducing reoffending rates by providing more culturally appropriate support to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander prisoners.

Maxima’s Special Programs Manager, Natasha Christie, said she had been encouraged by the high level of interest in the C-STEP program. “We have been inundated with applications and have been steadily working through them to select the most suitable candidates and begin working with them. There has been a lot of interest because the program may lead to a great employment opportunity, but we have also been really encouraged by the desire of candidates to make a difference with Indigenous prisoners.”

Under the program, Maxima provides one-on-one tailored support and training for 20 Indigenous jobseekers and develops pathways into possible employment as Correctional Officers in South Australia’s Adelaide, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Mobilong and Cadell prisons. On completion of the C-STEP program, participants will achieve a Certificate II in Justice Studies and be job-ready to apply for work with the South Australian Department for Correctional Services. Participants who successfully apply for Correctional Services jobs will then undertake a one-year training program in a Certificate III in Correctional Practice.

Murray Bridge-based Aninna Tarasenko, 23, is one of the first trainees to be selected for the C-STEP program. Aninna originally wanted to be a youth or social worker, but worked in a variety of fast food and restaurant jobs to support herself after leaving home while still a teenager. She changed direction in 2015 when she started a Certificate III in Business with Maxima, and was Apprentice of the Year in 2016.

Her qualifications led to part-time employment that she enjoys, but the role is based 100 kilometres away in another regional centre. Aninna said she jumped at the chance to learn new skills under the C-STEP program that could lead to employment in her home city.

She also believes that, as an Indigenous person working in a Correctional Services role, she could make a positive difference for Indigenous prisoners. “If they see an Indigenous person in a place like that, they are going to feel instantly more comfortable. I have had relatives go through different prison systems and the one thing they always do say is it’s a very lonely place. I feel like if they can have people they can connect with, they will feel comfortable,” Aninna said.