Second-chance opportunities through ex-offender recruitment

In April MACFORCE celebrated a milestone in ex-offender recruitment, placing our 100th previously incarcerated candidate into employment!

Over the past 15 years Australia’s incarcerated population has increased by 67%, with over half of all prisoners having previous imprisonment, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. At the time of release, less than one quarter of offenders have employment lined up. Without employment, ex-offenders are more likely to reoffend and be incarcerated within the year of their release.

Employment reduces reoffending. It promotes a future free of crime. This is where ex-offender recruitment agencies come in.

MACFORCE is a proud employer of those who’ve been affect by incarceration. We believe everyone deserves a second-chance, and do everything within our power for candidates to have a safe environment to upskill, feel unjudged and navigate the difficult time of reintegration.

“Those who’ve been incarcerated know what it’s like to have everything taken away and generally this helps them appreciate any opportunities given to them,” Northy, ex-offender & MACFORCE Program Manager said. 

“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.”

In Australia, indigenous people are 10 x more likely to be incarcerated, and face steeper barriers to employment than their non-indigenous counterparts. Through Reboot Australia, our social enterprise labour hire company, we look to bridge this gap. Our partnerships with indigenous community groups, JobActives, Indigenous Employment Agencies and State Corrective Services, ensure that everyone is given the Australian ‘fair go’.

In order to create sustained behaviour change and personal transformation, we needed to understand the factors affecting those seeking change. Reboot Australia’s ‘Reboot Academy’ focuses on building the relevant sociological, cultural and psychological factors to create desistance in candidates. Every element of our program is carefully designed to cultivate the building blocks for successful reintegration, giving candidates the tools to break the cycle of incarceration and reduce the ripple effect of re-offending throughout the community. 

From firsthand employment in our offices right through to successful candidates with our energy and resources, mining and construction clients, we have seen the benefits that ex-offender employment programs have, not only for the individual, but for organisations and communities.

The benefit to the individual

Spending time in correctional facilities mars the reputation of any individual, from a gap in their CV due to serving their sentence right through to the nature of their offence. When employers are recruiting, they are less inclined to consider ex-prisoners as candidates.

However, as Northy puts it, facing these prejudices first-hand, these are the individuals who are more motivated to change and grab opportunity with both hands.

Approximately two thirds of re-incarcerated people are unemployed at the time committing an offence. Employment provides stability. It provides a sense of purpose, achievement, growth and participation, all of which plays a role in desistance.   

In the system, ex-offenders become resigned to the feeling that their record makes them less valuable and uncapable of change. This group struggles with some of the worst mental health in Australia. Employment provides a sense of purpose. It can change their outlook on the future and allows ex-offenders the chance to move away from incarceration and toward a life free of crime.

Benefit to the organisation

If you give someone who has been incarcerated an inch, they will give you a mile. Ex-offender recruitment for any business or organisation means the investment in increased productivity, loyal and solution-focussed employees.

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

It is more important now for employers to consider ex-offender recruitment to boost their performance and support the community in which they operate.

Benefit to the community

Throughout the pandemic, Australia has been hit with unprecedented skilled worker and labour shortages which have impacted our economy. By connecting ex-offenders with the current recruitment efforts in industry, we are able to bridge a gap and keep Australia in production. The flow on effect being the reintroduction and restimulation of the local economy – and this is great for everyone.

Aside from the economic benefit, the family and local community of someone affected by the justice system benefits tenfold. Successful reintegration leads to more stable households, more role models championing a life free of crime, better education for families and overall reduces the generational effect of incarceration.

Removing barriers to employment for ex-offenders starts with challenging beliefs or views associated with incarcerated persons. This is something we are all capable of making. Some have taken a slight turn down the wrong road due to situational factors, others one bad decision now mars their entire future. We are all human and part of being is making mistakes and learning from them.  

We would once again like to acknowledge the work of the extended MACFORCE team who enabled us to provide opportunity to ex-offenders through recruitment. As of mid-April, we have successfully placed 113 ex-offenders into 28 companies since the start of our program.

If you are looking for careers in FIFO, connect with us via


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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