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Karnet prisoners given second chance at life with mining traineeships

The odds of ex-inmates finding a well-paid job after release has been boosted thanks to a successful trainee program from Alcoa and mining and earthmoving contractor Piacentini & Son.

The traineeships are offered at Karnet Prison Farm as part of the Department of Justice’s efforts to help prisoners rejoin the community.

Karnet Prison Farm is a minimum security prison where prisoners serve out the end of their sentences, with the focus on building resilience and self-esteem through education, training, life skills and work-related skills.

In nine years of the program, nine of the 11 prisoners who have completed the training have been employed by Piacentini & Son, with four still working at Alcoa’s Huntly bauxite mine about half-an-hour east from Pinjarra.

Acting assistant superintendent operations for Karnet, Peter Vose, said the program had become quite popular amongst prisoners.

“The initiative offers prisoners skills that can be instrumental in them turning their lives around,” he said.

“The traineeships have become highly sought-after and the prisoners work hard to prove they are ready when it’s time for recruitment.”

One former prisoner said the program helped set him up successfully for the workforce.

“From the moment I started the traineeship, all employees and management made me feel very welcome and comfortable,” he said.

“The fact that I was employed after release, which was no guarantee, made it all worthwhile. I now have a new career and it brings great stability and job security for me moving forward.”

The course runs over six-eight weeks at the mine and was carried out three times a year before COVID-19 hit.

Applications for the traineeships are open to minimum-security prisoners who are serving the last six months of their sentence and are approved for unsupervised activities outside the prison.

Under selection criteria set by the companies, prisoners must also hold a valid driver’s licence and have no previous experience with heavy duty trucks.

The next round of applications is expected to open in the coming months and will see two trainees selected.

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