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Broken Chains: Modern Slavery

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Modern Slavery

Thousands of people are working in Australia for around a dollar an hour or less, and are not eligible for workers compensation, even if their supervisors are at fault and the accident results in permanent injury or death. Where is this possible in the 21st century? Only in the prison system, where incarcerated people are often expected to work in high-risk areas with training far below accepted Australian standards. Welcome to the first episode of Broken Chains where Courtney and I discuss prison labour, or as we prefer to think of it, modern slavery.


See Damien's exhibition with Newcastle libraries.  Broken Chains Newcastle Libraries. 

Indigenous Australians are incarcerated at disproportionate rates. (9 January 2018.) "Disproportionate incarceration rate"Australian Law Reform Commission.  

Indigenous Australians are incarcerated at disproportionate rates and key features of best practice First Nations Healing models. Kym Bugmy, Terina King, Gail Gray, Melissa Merritt, Tara Morrison, Kelly Parker, Elizabeth Wymarra and Mindy Sotiri  (24 August 2020)  Community Restorative Centre submission for the select committee on the high level of First Nations people in custody and oversight and review of deaths in custody  Community Restorative Centre. Retrieved 16 August 2021. 

Former Supreme court judge criticises the lack of computer access for education and rehabilitation purposes in NSW prisons. (20 April 2017.) "Ex-judge wants computers in NSW jail cells"SBS News.  

Inmates trial tablet computers in cells advocated by former Family Court Chief Justice  Paul Gregoire (2 December 2020)  Computers in NSW prison cells: an interview with former Family Court Chief Justice Elizabeth Evatt. Sydney Criminal Lawyers. Retrieved 16 August 2021. 

Studies and reports document how Government policy is not functioning, nor supporting inmate education and human rights:  

Phone calls in prison cost $2.20 and are capped at six minutes. Linnane, Damien (31 March 2020). "I've Been To Prison, Your Quarantine Hotel Room Is Nothing Like It"10 daily. 

"Personal phone calls in prison are limited to six minutes and must be paid for by the inmate. Collect calls are not allowed." (9 November 2020) Frequently Asked Questions Corrective Services NSW. Retrieved 16 August 2021.  

The default allowance for inmates is $15 a week. Kyriacou, Kate (9 August 2012). "Prisoners being served 'rotten food'"The Courier Mail. 

"Inmates’ weekly wages range from $24.60 to $70.55." Leeming, Lachlan (8 January 2018). "What tops the grocery list of NSW inmates?"Newcastle Herald. 

"Sentenced prisoners are expected to work."(19 November 2020). "Chapter 2: Going to prison" (PDF). NSW Government. Retrieved 14 August 2021. 

Employment after prison (2016). Adult Prisoner Participation in Education, Training and Employment in Australia, 2008–15. UNSW, Deakin University, Edith Cowan University ARC Linkage Project ID: LP140100329.  Retrieved 16 August 2021. 

"Women in prison are ... sewing Australian flags, making bed linen. They are paid between 80¢ and $3 per hour." Poole, Melanie (29 June 2019). "In Victoria's prisons, women pay for men's violence"The Age. 

Incarcerated people working in jobs in prison are not considered workers. They are not entitled to workers’ compensation and are not protected by the Fair Work Act 2009. "Compensation Claims whilst in Prison"Caxton Legal Centre. Retrieved 14 August 2021. 

"[Corrective Services Industries] claims 84.9 percent of inmates who can work, do. Last year, CSI had revenues of $113 million and made a $45.6 million profit." Brook, Benedict (28 March 2017). "Bed linen and boomerangs — the surprising products made by prisoners" 

"Health services [in prison] are struggling to keep pace with the ballooning prison population." Fellner, Carrie (5 April 2021). "Inmates are ageing '15 years before the rest of NSW'"The Sydney Morning Herald. 

Treasurers in NSW are aware intervention strategies and rehabilitation programs are more effective at dealing with crime than incarcerating people but will not change anything as "it will just not fly with the public. It just will not fly with the cabinet." Knaus, Christopher (29 December 2017). "Prisons at breaking point but Australia is still addicted to incarceration"The Guardian. 

Check out more music by Louisa Magrics. "LXM music" 

Views expressed disclaimer: 

The views, thoughts, opinions expressed throughout this series are solely attributed to the host and guests of the program and do not reflect those of the City of Newcastle. 


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