Five Indigenous prisoners will be provided with training and employment opportunities with BHP Billiton and its contracting partners at Olympic Dam through an employment project to be funded by the Australian Government.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, and the Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, today announced funding of $57,825 from the Indigenous Employment Programme (IEP) for the Prisoner Reintegration Employment Opportunities Program (PREOP).

“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring as many Indigenous people as possible are working in real jobs,” Minister Scullion said.

“The IEP funds projects which encourage employers to provide sustainable employment opportunities and which drive practical Indigenous businesses and economic opportunities in urban, regional and remote areas.

“Connecting prisoners to training and work on release from prison is crucial to help reduce rates of recidivism.”

Mr Ramsey said the project would enable five Indigenous prisoners under the Early Release Programme at Port Augusta Prison to undertake training in preparation for employment with BHP Billiton and its contracting partners at Olympic Dam.

“All five Indigenous pre-release prisoner participants have commenced the first stage of the pre-employment training, however no employment placements will occur until the training is completed and the prisoners are released,” Mr Ramsey said.

“The practical aspects of the civil construction training are to be delivered in Roxby Downs on projects nominated by the community.

“Helping train Indigenous prisoners to gain new skills and assisting them with a new start in life shows the Abbott Government is fair dinkum about closing the gap.”

Minister Scullion congratulated BHP Billiton on its involvement in this project saying it would go a long way to helping ensure prisoners are engaged in meaningful work immediately upon their release, thereby reducing the risk of recidivism.