South Australia prison uses Azure and Office 365 to reduce reoffending

South Australia prison uses Azure and Office 365 to reduce reoffending
Programme aims to give inmates the necessary employment skills for when they leave prison

Elly Yates-Roberts |

The South Australia Department for Correctional Services (SADCS) is using Microsoft Azure and Office 365 to reduce reoffending by giving inmates the necessary skills for employment when they leave prison. 

Each year 6,000 people pass through South Australia’s prison system and historically around half of them have reoffended within two years. In order to combat this problem, South Australia’s 10by20 initiative is working to reduce reoffending by 10% by 2020. A key element of this is providing education to enhance prisoners’ prospects and help prepare them for life on the outside.

Working with Microsoft, the SADCS has deployed a cloud-based computing network and educational software to help prisoners learn. The programme uses the latest versions of Windows and Office to provide prisoners with the skills needed in the workplace and in vocational training. 

Using Azure, the programme has the scale to serve all 3,000 people across the region’s nine prisons. It can also be strictly controlled to ensure prisoners cannot access the internet or communication with each other in an uncontrolled way. 

The solution also ensures consistency across all the prisons to provide the same training materials and content, which is critical for the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) requirements placed on the DCS.

“The fact that we’ve got this centralised model now really changes the way that our RTO can operate, in terms of ensuring education materials are consistent and up-to-date and compliant with the requirements,” said Henry Pharo, director of Offender Rehabilitation Services at SADCS. “We’re also using the system to support our training for numeracy and literacy, using computer-aided learning. Previously, it was very much paper-based. We’ve been able to get some good applications to teach people maths and English, right down to the English as a Second Language level.”

Through its partnership with Microsoft, the SADCS now benefits from enterprise-grade security, reach, resilience and state-of-the-art technology. Microsoft worked with DCS to create a solution tailor-made for the security requirements associated with the prison environment.

Since its pilot launch in October 2018, the rollout has been extended to a further two prisons, with 472 prisoners currently accessing the system.

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