Old me, new me, IT: Changing prisoner behaviour through visual stories

Lightning talks 1

Rob Steer
Northern Territory Correctional Services

Catch this session

Monday 4 December, 2.30pm – 3pm
Stream 4
Room L209


The Northern Territory prison population has grown over the last 20 years at a rate greater than other jurisdictions and recorded the highest recidivism rate with 58% of prisoners returning to prison within two years.
One of the challenges confronting the NT correctional system is the continued over-representation of Indigenous people in prisons, with Indigenous people comprising 85% of the adult prisoner population.
Indigenous people face a number of challenges reintegrating into the community and these challenges are often exacerbated by low levels of literacy, numeracy and basic skills, with many prisoners not able to understand English.
One of the initiatives introduced by NTCS is the use of visual stories, which can be translated into different languages, including Indigenous languages. Stories on work, health and safety, food hygiene and safe driving have been translated into the five most predominant Central Australian Indigenous languages. One of the most positive stories produced is titled Old Me, New Me, which assists prisoners to recognise how their previous behaviour was unacceptable and works through how they can change for the better.
NTCS has an agreement with local company, iTalk Studios, to faciliate the creation of the stories, including the provision of training to prisoners in spoken English and multi-media activities.
To date, the partnership has seen male and female prisoners produce in excess of 60 work and personal stories.
The stories produced are a new medium of communicating, transforming how we share information. The organisation can turn any written information into a visual story.

About the author

Rob Steer

• Has 25 years’ experience, across four Australian Correctional Jurisdictions.
• In 1990, responsible for establishing the first private sector factory within a Correctional Centre in Australasia.
• In 1996, established Prison Industries at Mt Gambier prison.
• During a seven year period, involved in building, constructing, commissioning and operation of Port Phillip Prison.
• In 2003, responsible for generating work opportunities for 5,500 prisoners for Corrective Services Industries NSW.
• Holds a Diploma of Export (Marketing Major) and has undertaken International Business Development program at Monash University, post       graduate studies in Manufacturing Management and Graduate Diploma in Applied Management.
• Currently President of the Correctional Industries Association of Australasia.
• Awarded with Rotary “Pride of Workmanship” and “Excellence in Commitment to Skills and Education” awards.
Current Title: Director, Custodial Operations, NT Correctional Services