Female prisoners work together to overcome past trauma

Female prisoners are being trained to handle the ongoing effects of trauma as part of a new push by the NSW Government.

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The Trauma-Informed Practice Training program, specifically designed for Corrective Service staff struggling to assist traumatised inmates, was launched in Sydney on Thursday.

The program aims to help female prisoners manage their emotions, often brought on by traumas of the past, such as sexual abuse.

Ninety per cent of Aboriginal women and 82 per cent of non-Aboriginal women in prison have been sexually abused at some point in their lives.

One inmate at Silverwater Women’s Corrective Centre told NITV News that her six year sentence was a result of such abuse.

“I have been raped, only once,” she said.

“My step sister, she used to go out and hang with all the older men and one night someone broke into my mum and dads house and he thought I was my step sister. I was only 11.”

The 30-year-old Bundjalung woman said offenders would rather confide in their cell mates than staff.

“A lot of them are going through exactly the same pain as what I’m going through,” she said.

“They don’t trust many people or the inmates or the officers, but they know that whatever they tell me I keep to myself.”

But those inside may not have the skills needed to effectively treat inmates before it’s too late.

“I’ve found them in showers or I’ve found them in their rooms on their bed bleeding out but I don’t have training in that,” she said.

“I’m still going in there and helping them, because they’re my mates and they are like my family, because I’ve been in here for so long and prison has become my home.”

The training package will also allow staff to develop their cultural awareness skills and build trustworthy relationships with female offenders.

NSW Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard said the training program, which will target both staff and inmates, would aim to break the cycle of abuse and incarceration.

Mr Hazzard said the latest training program will reduce the rate of reoffending and imprisonment

“This package is about informing them, educating them, empowering them and hopefully it will be a better outcome for the officers and the inmates,” he said.

“What this is seeking to do is go back to the cause, back to what’s actually brought them back into the system so they realise there are other positive pathways out there.”