Removing ex-offender’s barriers to employment 

Unlike the average Australian who experiences barriers to employment in the way of relevant experience, ex-offender’s barriers to employment are a lot less straight forward.  

To the estimated 170 ex-offenders released every day in Australia, everything from access to work, years out from the labour force and recruitment prejudice can be major setbacks to rehabilitating their lives post-release.  

Of those who were reconvicted in 2018, 66 percent of people were unemployed at the time of their offence. There is a strong correlation between employment supporting reintegration into civilian life through job stability, confidence, and access to support networks.  

MACFORCE believe that everyone deserves a second chance to change their lives, and to dismantle ex-offender’s barriers to employment. Currently, we are committing ourselves to the reskilling and training offenders in the last three months of their sentence through our Reboot Academy.  

A key element of our program is ensuring we understand the ex-offender’s journey to employment. As an ex-offender himself, our very own WA Prisoner Employment Co-ordinator Brad North (Northy), has lived these each of these barriers.  

“When I knew I was heading to prison, I told myself I was going to try to use the experience to change my life for the better,” Northy said.  

“It wasn’t until I saw how bad prison was it that I changed my purpose to help other prisoners.” 

“I got onto the peer support team after 12 months and this position entailed inducting new prisoners, suicide prevention, mediation between prisoners and staff, orientation to the corrective system, general problem solving for inmates, and a whole bunch more.” 

MACFORCE met Northy after we heard about the work he was performing to improve the lives of those around him while still in prison. His insight and experiences have enabled us to better identify ex-offender’s barriers to employment, and craft a program to empower those ready to re-enter and contribute to society.  

Our work is not without the recognition of employers willing to challenge the current ex-offender barriers and are willing to tap into an underutilised workforce amongst the current skilled worker shortages. As such, MACFORCE encourages all employers to:  

#1 – Challenge statistics 

Currently, 79 percent of all Indigenous people in correctional facilities have had prior adult imprisonment, compared to the 59 percent of all non-indigenous prisoners.  

A leading factor to their reoffence is an absence of purpose, support network or stable employment. In Northy’s experience, offenders facing release are challenged in finding employment due to stigmas associated with incarceration.   

To make a difference to the lives of well-intentioned ex-offenders, employers must understand the challenges that face ex-offenders and educate themselves on the value of mentorship and support within the workforce.  

To date, MACFORCE has been able to successfully place 82 ex-offenders into meaningful employment. That is 82 people who would otherwise not have the backing to make a difference in their own lives.  
This year, we are aiming to employ 100 ex-offenders with our expansion into Queensland.  

#2 – Provide purpose 

Purpose in life and work is vital to every single person, regardless of background or experience. For Northy his purpose is in giving back and using his experiences to transform the lives of ex-offenders.  

“My job allows me to step in and help those people who are lost for direction when they are released,” Northy said.  

“Providing ex-offenders with options to turn their life around and start, in most cases, a new career is satisfying for me and inspiring for them.”  

As arguably the biggest driver in any single life, purpose can so easily be cultivated in those who feel rudderless with something as simple as removing ex-offender’s barriers. By providing employment opportunities, employers can take an active role in promoting confidence and support through purpose for this demographic.  

#3 – Receive value  

Taking a step back from the skilled worker shortages, recruiters and employers have always looked for people who are willing to apply themselves, learn and give their all to a role – oftentimes eclipsing the need for practical skills.  

In the case of ex-offenders, by providing an inch of opportunity and purpose and they will give you a mile.  

“Ex-offenders know what it’s like to have everything taken away and generally this helps them appreciate any opportunities given to them,” Northy said.  

“The vast majority of people in prison are average people like you and me who found themselves in a difficult or compromising position due to circumstances out of their control.  

“There are a lot of skilled people in prison who can be an asset to their community and society as a whole if given the chance to prove that their past mistakes do not define their character or the future.” 

This year is shaping up to be a pivotal one for MACFORCE. Our expansion into Queensland and official launch of Reboot Australia is set to change the way ex-offender’s face their barriers and access work.  

If you are looking to participate in our ex-offender program, either as a candidate or employer, connect with us via recruitment@macforce.com.au

ABOUT MACFORCE: 

MACFORCE Australia is a recruitment company with heart, focused on changing the way people are employed in Australia, particularly across the mining, construction, and civil sector. MACFORCE supports candidates to find suitable work placements, while supporting its clients to find suitable employees. 

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