Batchelor Institute » Berrimah Graduation 2013
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Date:October 28, 2013

Berrimah Graduation 2013

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On 14 October 2013 41 students of the Batchelor Institute Berrimah Construction Services construction training program gathered with dignitaries and staff from Batchelor Institute and Northern Territory Department Correctional Services (NTDCS) for a shared Graduation ceremony at the training site located at Darwin prison, to celebrate the achievements of the students who are inmates at the Darwin Correctional Centre.

From 11.30am the graduands assembled, facing rows of around 70 staff, stakeholders and dignitaries and invited guests from Batchelor Institute, NTDCS, Department of Business, Master Builders Association Housing Industry Association and members of the Northern Territory Correctional Industries Advisory Council (CIAC).

Master of Ceremonies, Dr Tony Bowland, Head of Faculty Health Business and Science at Batchelor Institute introduced the event, the graduands and some history of the program. Dr Bowland began with introducing the Minister for Correctional Services, John Elferink, who gave an eloquent and honest speech, reiterating his strong political commitment to programs such as Berrimah Construction Services and the NTDCS ‘Sentenced to a Job’ program, for their potential to change lives. He commended the graduands for their efforts and work ethic, noting they have learned practical skills that can now assist them to gain meaningful employment both inside and outside of the prison system’, and that ‘the certificates earned by the prisoners will increase their eligibility to participate in the Northern Territory Government ‘Sentenced to a Job’ program.

This was followed with a ‘Welcome to Country’ by Larrakia woman Dorrie-Anne Raymond. Commissioner Ken Middlebrook then spoke, supporting the sentiments of the Minister, the work of his own team, and the long history of the project and of the partnership between NTDCS and Batchelor Institute.  He showed such pride and enthusiasm for the program and stated his commitment to its continued success, referring to the past twelve months as the most rewarding period in his long career, due to the successes of programs like BCS construction training and the NTDCS ‘Sentenced to a Job’ program: ‘I have never enjoyed my career as much as in these past 12 months’. He commended the commitment and determination of the number of graduates who have decided to continue their studies with Berrimah Construction Services to achieve the next Certificate in their field. Commissioner Middlebrook spoke with passion about the importance of training and jobs to give a sense of purpose, self pride and respect: ‘having a job means that people can support their families and do the right thing’.

He continued, ‘When we were in our initial discussions with Batchelor Institute, we all agreed that our number one aim would be to provide skills and qualifications to low security Indigenous prisoners through a ‘live work’ construction learning environment. The fact that we are now here to witness 41 people graduate today is proof that it has been a success. Every one of you standing here today now has a better chance at success and a better chance at getting a job.’

‘Nothing gives me more pride than times when I’ve walked into a Territory business and a man comes up and tells me that they used to be an inmate. Thanks to training and opportunities including ‘Sentenced to a Job’ they received while in the Correctional Centre, they now have meaningful work and a greatly improved future’.

After this Batchelor Institute Director Adrian Mitchell spoke, acknowledging the partnership, the funders, particularly Department of Business, Batchelor Institute staff and his own satisfaction at seeing the student outcomes on the day, acknowledging attendance at graduations as one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Master of Ceremonies, Tony Bowland then invited each of the eight prisoners receiving a Certificate II in Construction to come and receive their certificates, which were individually presented by Batchelor Institute Director. This was followed by presentation by the Director to each of the 33 participants who received a Statement of Attainment; and two special awards to Rex Fisher and Colin Broadwidth for their demonstration of leadership in the program. Dr Bowland finished off by demonstrating the new Berrimah Construction Services cap, to be given to each of the eight graduates as a mark and a reminder of their ongoing role as leaders and mentors to others coming through, and to their communities into the future.

The group then broke for lunch and an opportunity for the audience members to meet the students and offer congratulations for their great achievements.

Berrimah Construction Services (formerly BIITEBUILD) is a collaborative construction training program with embedded literacy and numeracy.  It has been operating since 2008. It’s primary aim is to provide work readiness skills and qualifications to low security Indigenous prisoners through a ‘live work’ construction learning environment. Other key stakeholders include the Northern Territory Department of Business, Department of Infrastructure, the University of New England ‘Quicksmart’ program, and industry. The training is undertaken in a variety of contexts, including onsite at the Darwin Correctional Centre  and offsite in community at the Venndale Drug and Rehabilitation Centre in Katherine.

BCS contributes directly to the Indigenous Economic Development Strategy (2011-2018), by supporting training, skilling and transitioning from prison system to viable employment, contributing to the communities of origin of the participants and to current shortages in the Northern Territory construction industry. The graduates spent between three and six months engaging in a range of vocations including building and construction, welding and concreting.

Batchelor Institute wishes all graduates continued success in their education and employment pursuits.