Ex­hi­bi­tion gives in­mates chance to har­ness tal­ents

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA HEALY

A REF­ER­EN­DUM on whether the North­ern Ter­ri­tory should be­come Aus­tralia’s sev­enth state is likely to fail for the same rea­sons it did in 1998, a for­mer MP says.

Chief Min­is­ter Adam Giles raised the is­sue at the COAG meet­ing this week and it has been favourably re­ceived by other lead­ers. A ref­er­en­dum has been pro­posed to be held in 2018 on the 40th an­niver­sary of self- gov­ern­ment.

But Ken Parish, a law lec­turer at Charles Dar­win Univer­sity and a for­mer La­bor mem­ber of the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly, says Ter­ri­to­ri­ans, es­pe­cially Abo­rig­ines, hold many con­cerns that have not been ad­dressed since the pre­vi­ous ref­er­en­dum. A UNIQUE art ex­hi­bi­tion raised more than $ 2500 for char­ity within one hour of open­ing to the public.

Nine of the 24 paint­ings, cre­ated by pris­on­ers at the Townsville Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre, were bought by politi­cians, prison war­dens, the media and mem­bers of the public.

The money will go to char­i­ties Be­yond Blue and Prison Fel­low­ship Aus­tralia.

Prison chap­lain Rev­erend Rose­mary Dunn said it was the sec­ond time an ex­hi­bi­tion of pris­on­ers’ works had been held at St James Cathe­dral. She said about $ 2500 was raised for the Mount Isa Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre last year.

“The pris­on­ers

get

to choose the char­ity and they chose one that could help oth­ers,” Rev Dunn said. “Men­tal ill­ness is also a sub­stan­tial prob­lem in the prison sys­tem.”

The pris­on­ers re­flected on NAIDOC Week when cre­at­ing their works, some of which could easily ri­val those hang­ing in art gal­leries.

“There is a huge amount of tal­ent shown here and I think that if these pris­on­ers can find some en­cour­age­ment ... they may be able to draw on that upon their re­lease,” Rev Dunn said.

“Many come from dys­func­tional back­grounds, have strug­gled with em­ploy­ment or ad­dic­tions and men­tal ill­ness. But some have amaz­ing tal­ents that, if they can har­ness them, could re­ally put them on the right track.” Townsville Cor­rec­tions Com­plex gen­eral man­ager Jon Fran­cis- Jones said about 70 works were pro­duced by the pris­on­ers, with 24 pieces cho­sen for the ex­hi­bi­tion. Some of the pris­on­ers are serv­ing time for se­ri­ous crimes while oth­ers are be­hind bars for petty of­fences.

“The men and women who have pro­duced these works in­vested a lot of time to cre­ate them and to have them pos­si­bly sold for a good cause is a great thing,” he said.

“We are a cor­rec­tional cen­tre and our goal is to cor­rect be­hav­iour and we do that by do­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive pro­grams, un­der­stand­ing why they are with us and equip­ping them to make bet­ter choices.” Re­turn­ing Home runs un­til Au­gust 2.

Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

IM­PRES­SIVE ART: Townsville Cor­rec­tional Com­plex gen­eral man­ager Jon Fran­cis- Jones and prison chap­lain Rose­mary Dunn with a piece fea­tured in Re­turn­ing Home.

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