Mia Schlicht discussing IPA criminal justice reform research ABC Landline – 14 August 2023

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14 August 2023
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On August 14, IPA Research Analyst Mia Schlicht joined ABC Landline to discuss the IPA’s research into criminal justice reform and how it can help fill labour shortages.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


ABC Presenter:

In the 26 years Boulia’s held camel races, event President Shelley Lorensen’s seen them grow in size and professionalism. Queensland Racing has even come on board.

Shelley Lorensen:

We’re only a very small committee, there’s four of us. And we’re all moms and we all work and we all do our other jobs as well, but we’ve actually already planning now for next year and this event hasn’t even finished. So it’s not the constant busyness like how this week is, but you’re always planning for it.

ABC Presenter:

What does it mean to have the prisoners come and work here?

Shelley Lorensen:

Oh, they are absolutely a godsend. We would be absolutely lost without them. They’re here for setup, they’re here during the event. And then at the end of the event, they’re here for pack up and it’s just like those little fairies that come in the middle of the night. And you’d look at the bar, especially at the end of the night in the areas out here, you look around and you’re like, “Oh my god.” You get here the next morning, and it is, it’s like they’ve just come in and it’s beautiful, ready to go and start again. Like we’re forever grateful. We would be absolutely lost without them with this event.

ABC Presenter:

That appreciation is not lost on the prisoners whose preparation starts long before the actual event.

Working Prisoner:

We’re given a lot of opportunity out here. When you’re on the inside, there’s only so much things that you’re able to do, only so many things that you’re able to learn. And so in doing the steps and getting your courses and your experience up, to come out here and be in action in the community is a great thing.

ABC Presenter:

How important is that, taking a base knowledge and then increasing it?

Working Prisoner:

It’s extremely gratifying. So say for instance, when we’re on the inside, we’re working in the metal shops, we’re actually making the bale feeders that the camels are eating out of, cattle gates, cattle grids, and then to come out here and to see everything where it’s meant to be, yeah, it’s really good.

ABC Presenter:

A recent Institute of Public Affairs paper argues Australia could make better use of low risk prisoners to help meet labor shortages.

Mia Schlicht:

So we know that prisons can actually contribute to the cycle of re-offending. So these non-violent offenders, who pose limited risk to community safety, could actually reintegrate better with society if they were sentenced to alternative justice methods such as offender employment programs, which could reduce the chances of them re-offending upon finishing their sentence. In those terms, this reform would save Australian taxpayers approximately 2.3 billion a year.

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