Prisoners fill skills gap

In a partnership with the South Australian Department of Correctional Services, BHP Billiton will welcome teams of low security convicts from Port Augusta Prison to work at its Olympic Dam uranium mine.

In a partnership with the South Australian Department of Correctional Services, BHP Billiton will welcome teams of low security convicts from Port Augusta Prison to work at its Olympic Dam uranium mine.

Prisoners on the Mobile Outback Work Camp program will be given the opportunity to gain work experience at the mine, as well as the prospect of employment upon their release.

This is the first time a private company had taken up the prisoners’ services since the Port Augusta program began in 1996.

According to South Australian Correctional Services Minister Tom Koutsantonis, the prisoners would gain nationally-accredited skills and training through the scheme.

“The program will deliver tangible outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners as they prepare for life beyond prison,” he said.

“The work they have done in remote areas for the Department of Environment and Heritage equates to millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours work.

“I hope this program encourages other private companies to explore similar partnerships that seek to improve prisoner reintegration, reduce reoffending and ultimately help create a safer, stronger community.”

BHP vice president of mining at Olympic Dam Barry Mitchell said the camps form part of the company’s Indigenous Participation Program at Olympic Dam, which provides training, scholarships and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.

“BHP is committed to supporting training and employment for Indigenous people,” he said.

“This program is primarily focused on delivering outcomes for Indigenous prisoners; however some eligible non-Indigenous prisoners are also able to participate in the program.”

The current work camp, which includes five Indigenous and four non-Indigenous prisoners, has been restoring two homesteads at Andamooka Station.

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