Prison Program Expanded to Bring Joy to Paediatrics

NT Government

A cuddly group of handcrafted teddy bears made by women prisoners at the Darwin Correctional Centre have been delivered to sick children in Royal Darwin Hospital.

In a new development for the Women's Crochet Program, women prisoners have completed their first batch of crocheted teddy bears to help cheer up children staying in the hospital's paediatric ward.

The program began in 2016 as a social project, with women prisoners knitting colourful crochet blankets for patients undertaking chemotherapy treatment at the Alan Walker Cancer Centre.

The blankets have also been gifted to other Territorians through the NT Cancer Council in Darwin and Alice Springs.

The Women Prisoners Crochet Program is one of a range of restorative justice activities designed to give prisoners opportunities to understand how their past actions have impacted on other people and learn ways to change behaviours.

Not only does it help participants learn new skills, but it allows them to develop empathy with the welfare of others and give back to the community.

The project is made possible through donations of yarn from organisations and individuals and developed a national following after it featured in the award-winning podcast Birds Eye View.

The women prisoners are keen to keep receiving further donations of yarn so they can continue to support sick children and cancer patients around the Territory.

Quotes from Attorney-General, Selena Uibo:

"This program is about supporting our prisoners and providing opportunities for them to develop new skills and give back to the community.

"The smiles of the kids receiving the crochet bears have to be seen to be believed.

"We are committed to providing and improving prison programs, because we know the positive flow-on benefits they have for inmates and the community."

Quotes from Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles:

"The Women Prisoners Crochet Project has been providing joy to patients at the Alan Walker Cancer Centre for years.

"When a loved one is going through treatment, the gift of a colourful, handmade blanket or bear can really brighten someone's day.

"It's great to see this program expanded to support some of our youngest Territorians receiving care in hospital."

Quotes from Senior Prison Industries Officer, Ruth Mellor:

"Female prisoners are given the opportunity to learn new skills through the program which is a valuable part of their rehabilitation.

"While in Darwin Correctional Centre, these women have a combination of structured and unstructured time, this program fills that unstructured time offering them something practical to do that helps someone else.

"Most participants have never done this type of craft before and are enthusiastic to participate in the program."

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