Over 600 First Nations men and women are currently connected to The Torch program.
For participants, the creation and sale of their artworks is part of the rehabilitation process that helps build confidence, social capital, economic stability and pathways to reconnect with the community.
Income earned from the program provides participants with the ability to realise their potential and change their circumstances while in prison and when connecting back to the community. Participants are able to provide approved support to their families on the outside, increasing stability and helping to alleviate ongoing socio-economic disadvantage. Participants are also able to stand more confidently on their own two feet and avoid common pitfalls upon release from prison such as finding and maintaining affordable and safe accommodation. This decreases recidivism and opens new pathways towards education and employment with many positive intergenerational impacts.
The knowledge and experiences of Community Elders and those participating in the program continues to define the program’s design and delivery. Employment of men and women from the program to work on all aspects, including going back into prison to support others, has been significant to the program’s ongoing success. The Torch now employs 23 permanent staff, 13 are First Nations men and women – six of whom have transitioned through the in-prison and in-community programs to now work at The Torch.
The Torch program was built upon the foundation of Indigenous knowledges, philosophies and support processes that have been developed, taught and embraced for generations. It shows that Indigenous led and delivered solutions to some of the ongoing issues caused by systemic over incarceration can be addressed successfully if driven by the Indigenous community