The Torch’s Statewide Indigenous Arts Officer in Prisons and Community Program was born out of a growing need to provide art, cultural and arts industry vocational support for Indigenous offenders both inside prison and upon release. To date it is the only program of its kind to have been run in Victoria and is set within the context of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement (VAJA). Its focus is on the role of culture and cultural identity in the rehabilitative –process of Indigenous offenders.
The program accords with research highlighting the significant role arts programs can play in reconnecting Indigenous offenders with their culture. With a focus on building sustainable post-release pathways, the program hopes to address the disproportionately high rates of Indigenous recidivism by increasing the confidence of Indigenous offenders and ex-offenders to participate in the arts industry.