Robert’s Justice Journey has been all about helping others develop their own career journeys.
Robert Brown has been helping people upskill most of his working life.
Robert left school and completed a builder’s apprenticeship, before becoming a building maintenance overseer with the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs, working for two years at Cherbourg in the South Burnett.
He then moved to Bamaga on the tip of Cape York to work for 10 years supervising housing construction and building maintenance across the Cape and on the islands of the Torres Strait.
Steel frame spanner houses across this remote region became the focus of Robert’s work. He was placed in charge of designing and constructing concrete block houses across the region. Robert went on to develop apprenticeships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in every trade across the Cape and in the Torres Strait.
Robert then worked as a private building contractor before beginning as a Trade Instructor at the Sir David Longland (SDL) Correctional Centre at Wacol in 1992.
For the next 15 years, Robert and his team trained prisoners in the finer arts of making almost every piece of timber furniture needed by a household. Many hundreds of prisoners passed through his workshops during this time, learning valuable skills which would help them find jobs on their release back into the community.
With the closure SDL in 2006, Robert moved to the nearby Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre, as an Industry Adviser. He was later appointed the centre’s Vocational Training Officer.
Robert and his team continue to build the skills of prisoners who show commitment and potential. The hairdressing program he helped introduce to Brisbane Women’s in 2013 has supported numerous women forge careers after they return to the community.
“It is great to see them apply themselves and learn the skills. There is nothing better for us to hear about our women leaving this centre, securing a job and building a future,” he said. “For us, it is all about that—nothing better. We have women who are taking their new skills, stepping into good jobs and discovering a whole new positive life.”