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There are 116 custodial correctional facilities across Australia with over 40,000 adult prisoners
in custody, 93% being male. In Queensland, there are 11 high-security and 6 low-security
correctional centres all of which are operated by Queensland Corrective Services. Most
prisoners come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and people who spend time in prison will
experience higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, mental health disorders, social
disconnectedness, chronic physical disease, communicable disease, tobacco smoking, high-risk
alcohol consumption and illicit use of drugs than the general population.

The aim of this presentation is to explore a number of literacy and numeracy initiatives being
undertaken in Queensland prisons, whose aim is to empower prisoners with improved levels of
education which, statistically, has proven to reduce recidivism rates by upwards of 40%. At its
heart, correctional rehabilitation (which includes education) is designed to “Keep Them Out”.

Chris Howarth is an Education Officer with Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) where he
works in a high-security (adult male) correctional facility at Wacol. His background was
originally teaching in Queensland high schools for over 30 years, as well as lecturing at the
University of Queensland in teacher-training. In his capacity as an Education Officer, Chris’
principal role is to design, plan and implement education and vocational training programs
and related developmental activities to meet the needs of the inmate population within the
correctional facility. Most recently, Chris has undertaken the development of an adult literacy
program which incorporates the use of assistive technologies and digital literacy. The
challenge, in this “offline environment”, is ensure it assists inmates to be ‘skilled for life on the

  • October 7, 2023
    9:00 am