Trade Instructor at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre doubles down on skills

Trade Instructor Sharon Barbary who works at the Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre (BWCC) will study fashion in Japan later this year as she doubles down on her skill set to help the women at BWCC.

Ms Barbary started working for Queensland Correctional Services (QCS) in 2010 at Probation and Parole until 2013. Then she started at Woodford Correctional Centre (WCC) as a Custodial Correctional Officer (CCO) before moving to BWCC in 2014 where she is now a Trade Instructor (TI).

Sharon is undertaking the study trip to Japan thanks to a scholarship through TAFE Queensland and will broaden her fashion production skills, in turn expanding the potential range of products prisoners can learn to make.

As well as being part of the Sewing Workshop, Sharon is also a qualified hairdresser and when she returns to Brisbane in October 2019, she will work to establish courses at the centre so prisoners can receive formal qualifications in both fashion and hairdressing.

Sharon is supported by the BWCC through a Study and Research Assistance Scheme (SARAS) approval plan so she can further develop her qualifications and continue to assist women in the prison in working towards achieving trade qualifications.

General Manager Darryll Fleming said that Sharon’s skills and drive to help prisoners through formal qualification exemplifies the commitment that QCS has to rehabilitate prisoners and give them the skills to return to society as better people.

“Around 87 percent of women prisoners are victims of domestic violence and many of them have never had structure to their lives or worked before.” Mr Fleming said.

“We take a trauma-informed approached to helping our prisoners, and through the formalised training that Sharon is able to give the women, they are have the opportunity to leave our care with a formal qualification that can lead them to meaningful employment.”

“We are so lucky that Sharon is able to train these women in two different areas, and the difference it will make to the lives of these women will be immeasurable.”

Sharon said that her vison is to be able to help the staff at BWCC to provide meaningful work for the women that and that studying abroad is an opportunity to challenge herself, develop a broader understanding of the industry and to develop industry networks to assist the prisoners.

“I am so grateful that TAFE Queensland provided me the opportunity to further my skills through their programs, so to be able to provide those same opportunities to prisoners is really exciting,” she said.

“As a means of rehabilitation, giving the women something to work towards that will make their chance of securing a job when the leave is so important and worthwhile.”

TAFE Queensland International Executive Director Janelle Chapman said Study Abroad programs offer students incredibly rewarding and rare real-life learning experiences.

“All Study Abroad programs contribute to course requirements and credits towards qualifications and are a great way for students to gain valuable hands-on work experience,” Ms Chapman said.

“Our wonderful teachers also travel with students to not only assesses their learning, but also to work alongside them and ensure they are safe, supported and set up for success.

“We are very proud of our students and teachers as they volunteer their time and take their skills abroad to help communities in need throughout the world,” she said.

Study Abroad students can expect a unique global study experience and perhaps even a life changing experience. Student grants are made possible with support from the Australian Government’s Australia Awards – Endeavour Leadership Program.