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Helping to Shift perspectives in the Prison System

One of the primary benefits of identifying unrecognised talent in prisoners is that it can help to promote fairness and justice within the criminal justice system. Many prisoners, particularly those who are indigent or come from marginalised communities, may not have had the same opportunities as others to develop their skills and abilities. By identifying and nurturing their talent, it is possible to level the playing field and give these individuals a chance to succeed and contribute to society upon their release.

In the context of First Nations people, identifying unrecognised talent in prisoners can be especially important. Indigenous Australians are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, and many face significant challenges upon release due to a lack of education, job skills, and social support. By identifying and supporting the development of their talents, it is possible to help break the cycle of incarceration and provide a path forward for these individuals.

There are also broader societal benefits to be gained from identifying unrecognised talent in prisoners. By helping individuals develop their skills and abilities, it is possible to reduce recidivism and create a safer and more productive society. This can have a positive impact on the economy, as individuals who are able to contribute to society upon their release are less likely to rely on welfare and other forms of public assistance.

In Darwin and in Western Australia, the test has been used to identify people with the capacity to undertake specific training programs as part of remediation while in prison.

At Roebourne Prison in Western Australia, Rio Tinto offered job-ready training in prison and an opportunity to apply for a job on release to candidates who met their normal selection standard, using the Q Test in the place of traditional language-based assessments. Of the first 20 assessed, 60% scored higher than 0.5 SD above the mean, in comparison with a normal population where 30% would be expected to score at that level.

Dr Delphine McFarlane, Campus Manager (Vocational), Roebourne Regional Prison, who was in charge of the program, provided a report to a correctional conference in Perth. Her overarching comment was related to the strong increase in self-belief after the assessment results were shared with the prisoners. In summary, of a total of 33 prisoners who were assessed, 29 were successful and completed the training. 25 of these had been repeat offenders. 17 entered mainstream employment post-release, while a number returned to their communities. Two years later, 15 were still in employment. The more significant figure was that only 5 (or 16%) of the 29 had reoffended, compared to the usual recidivism rate of 70%.

“The use of the test takes guesswork out of accurate placement of Aboriginal prisoners in programmes appropriate to their potential for learning. For us, the Q Test has identified prisoners with apparent low literacy and numeracy levels who can be fast-tracked through intensive literacy and numeracy programmes, before moving into vocational training. In other words, we are ultimately placing more prisoners in skills training, than previously, and attaining better outcomes accordingly. It’s clearly evident that Q Testing helps enormously.”Dr Delphine McFarlane, Campus Manager (Vocational), Roebourn Regional Prison

In order to identify unrecognised talent in prisoners, it is important to have a range of tools and resources at one’s disposal, such as cognitive assessments.  My Potentia which is the most effective version of the Q Test can be a valuable tool in this regard, as it can help to identify the skills and abilities of individuals who may not have had the opportunity to showcase their talents in the past. By using a culture-fair, language-free assessment tool, it is possible to ensure that all prisoners have an equal opportunity to be evaluated and supported in their development.

Overall, by providing all individuals with the opportunity to develop their skills and abilities, it is possible to create a more equitable and just society for all.

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