16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 June 2022

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

Susannah Day

Program Manager
The Torch

Susannah is a Martu woman who has over 15 years of experience managing programs in the small to medium arts and culture sector in Australia, the UK and Indonesia. She has been the Program Manager of The Torch since January 2019, where she manages the delivery of their Statewide Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community program.

Prior to her role at The Torch, she was Head of Programs & Operations at Brunswick Mechanics Institute, managed by Next Wave. Susannah has also coordinated the biennial contemporary dance festival Dance Massive in 2017, has been the Program Producer at The Substation, and Producer at The Blue Room Theatre in Perth. Susannah has extensive experience stepping into new organisational roles, designing creative programs and developing sustainable systems and processes.

ABSTRACT
The Torch: Building hope through an Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community Program

Since 2011, The Torch has been providing art, cultural and arts industry support to Indigenous offenders and ex-offenders in Victoria through its Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community program (SIAPC).

SIAPC is an arts and cultural program run across all Victorian adult correctional facilities and In Community that aims to address the disproportionately high rates of Aboriginal incarceration The program increases the confidence of offenders and ex-offenders through participation in the arts through cultural strengthening. There is a particular focus on generating opportunities for people to foster new networks and to find arts industry opportunities to increase levels of economic and community participation.
The Torch works within the context of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement and focuses on the role of culture and cultural identity in the rehabilitative and reintegration process of Aboriginal prisoners.
In a 2018 independent evaluation, it was noted that the recidivism rate of Torch participants was just 11% compared to the wider Victorian rate of 53.4% for Indigenous prisoners and 42.8% for non-Indigenous prisoners.

Participants noted the program offered them:
• Improvements in social and emotional wellbeing
• Cultural connection and strengthening
• Development of artistic skills
• Creating hope for a positive future away from prison
• Financial support

This presentation will outline the impact the program has had on the lives of Aboriginal prisoners in Victoria and the key elements of the program’s success.

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