Government Announces $76.2 Million Investment in Prison to Employment Transition Program for
First Nations People, and the National Network implore the government to ensure that those programs are designed and developed by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

The government has announced a commitment of $76.2 million over the next five years, with an ongoing annual funding of $18.7 million, to establish a new voluntary prison to employment transition program specifically for First Nations people. This program aims to support First Nations individuals aged 15 years and over who are incarcerated and have a known release date or are on remand. The program will begin its progressive rollout on 1 July 2025.

‘The National Network gave evidence to a recent consultation conducted by DEWR regarding Prison Employment Services for First Nations Peoples. In our submission, the National Network were adamant that there was only one solution to ensuring that employment services for criminalised
people were safe, relevant, and competent, and that they must be designed and managed and where possible, delivered by criminalised people,’ said Tabitha Lean.

‘When services are designed and managed by people with actual lived prison experience, we can ensure they are relevant and safe for the people accessing them,’ said Tabitha Lean. ‘Due to our experience inside the prison system, we are able to ensure the services are truly voluntary and
people are not coerced into accessing those services, with their liberty being held hostage, as is often the case in prison,’ said Tabitha Lean.

‘While we welcome the crucial step towards supporting the economic empowerment of First Nations people by providing pre-release and post-release employment services, we reiterate our position that we have previously urged the government to commit to an approach of preferencing organisations led by formerly incarcerated people,’ said Debbie Kilroy. ‘We believe it will significantly enhance the effectiveness of any programs developed and without this commitment from the government, the outcomes of the initiative may not deliver the desired return on investment, nor achieve the best possible results for participants,’ said Debbie Kilroy.

The National Network welcome the announcement and remain dedicated to advocating for employment services that are impactful. We look forward to collaborating with the government and other stakeholders to ensure the success of this program.

About Us:
The National Network of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls represents women, girls, feminine identifying and non-binary people who are currently in prison, who have been to prison, those who are currently living within the confines of the criminal injustice system and those who have exited the system.

Our Network in Australia was founded in 2020 and remains an abolitionist organisation committed to ending the incarceration of women and girls. Collectively we argue that prison will never be a safe place for women or girls, and in fact they are places that entrench poverty, increase trauma and cause further social and economic harm. Prisons, in our opinion, do not result in an increase in public or community safety.


0419 762 474             0499 780 226

For further comment, please contact either National Network member, Debbie Kilroy
or Tabitha Lean