Variety of prison jobs for tradies

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Albany Regional Prison upholstery shop supervisor Ian Campbell says he would not swap his job for anything.
Camera IconAlbany Regional Prison upholstery shop supervisor Ian Campbell says he would not swap his job for anything.

The Department of Justice is calling on tradies who are out of work because of COVID-19 to put their skills to use in the prison system.

Albany Regional Prison is one of 14 in WA seeking to fill 125 vocational support officer positions.

VSOs play a key role in prisoner management, by keeping prisoners occupied and focused on self-improvement, rehabilitation and reparation activities for themselves and the broader community.

The positions cover 50 occupations including baking, cooking, metal fabricating, painting, and gardening.

Albany Regional Prison upholstery shop supervisor Ian Campbell joined the prison 14 years ago, being a former small-business owner.

With a team of 12 prisoners, Mr Campbell makes the mattresses, pillows, doonas, medical pouches, laundry bags and other items for the almost 7000 inmates in WA prisons.

“It’s great to have the opportunity of directing prisoners on the right path, but this role has had an invaluable input in my life too,” he said.

“It’s a calling and a challenge.

“You learn a lot about human nature and you learn patience.

“If they apply themselves and persevere, everyone can do basic machine work, but I do emphasise that I won’t accept sloppy work.”

A few years ago, Mr Campbell and some of his best sewers crafted mattresses and seat covers for the old whaling boat the Cheynes IV on display at the Albany Historic Whaling Station.

Mr Campbell said praise was a vital ingredient in getting the best out of his workforce.

“A lot of prisoners haven’t had much praise in their lives and they do remember it,” Mr Campbell said.

“I met a former prisoner on the outside who married and became a heavy diesel mechanic.

“He came up to me and said he wanted to thank me for the chat and the encouragement inside because it had really helped him ... it was life-changing for him.”

For details, visit justice.wa.gov. au/prisonjobs.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails