VCE LEGAL STUDIES STUDENT TAKE PART IN AN INCURSION ON OUR PRISON SYSTEM, WITH ARTHUR BOLKAS (CRIMINOLOGIST & AUTHOR)
Arthur Bolkas is a criminologist and author who is very passionate about reforming our prison system. Drawing on over 30 years of academic, professional and lived experience, Arthur addressed our VCE Legal Studies students on a range of legal issues relating to sanctions and the aims of imprisonment, Corrections Victoria (facts & stats), his personal experience of imprisonment, Institutionalism v Rehabilitation and the problems associated with the release and reintegration of prisoners.
Our VCE Legal Studies students were exposed to Arthur’s passion, experience and openness via his presentation of our prison system.
Year 12 Legal Studies Teacher
Here is what they thought:
On Thursday 11 March, students undertaking VCE Legal Studies had the pleasure of listening to the insights of criminologist Arthur Bolkas. The presentation can be best described as exhilarating. Arthur’s passion for rehabilitation was palpable. Being a former prisoner himself, Arthur delved into the recidivism phenomenon within Victoria and his lived experiences with the justice system.
This incursion provided me with an invaluable insight into the depth of our rehabilitative problem. A point of significance that will always be transferable in my life, was Arthur’s focus on a strong sense of community to reintegrate former prisoners. I would like to thank Ms D’Ambrosio for organising this event.
Year 12 Legal Student
On Thursday 11 March, the VCE Legal Studies students had the privilege of having Criminologist Arthur Bolkas discuss the prison system.
The presentation included many eye-opening statistics on the prison system that demonstrated its inability to rehabilitate criminals back into society. Some of these statistics on prisoners included; 48% return to prison within 2 years, 500 die annually in Australia within 1 year of release (30% in the first month) and disturbingly, released prisoners are almost 7 times more likely to suicide than the general population.
Arthur’s passion when presenting was inspiring, giving us students an insight into the infuriation of seeing a system fail. He shared with us his personal experiences of working inside prisons and how painful it was seeing things like three generations of a family - all in prison at the same time.
Arthur shared his own experience of being a criminal and how he was able to turn his life around. He has worked tirelessly creating organisations that can help inmates build up a community that allows them to have connections and friendships when they get released.
Arthur shared with us the value of having a strong community around us and truly how lucky we are to not be tied up in the prison system.
Year 12 Legal student
NORTH KOREA INCURSION
On Thursday 25 February, Year 10 Global Conflict students had the opportunity to hear of Mr Kulesza’s experiences and time spent in North Korea as a tour guide. This focused on aspects of North Korean life and the cultural differences between not only Australia, but also its neighbouring countries.
We learnt a lot about the unique traits of North Korean society, such as its political regime, as well as other aspects of daily life that are particularly different than here in Australia. These included education, food, laws, and entertainment. Learning about such interesting topics through Mr Kulesza’s first-hand accounts, as well as video and photographic footage, was a very eye-opening experience, and allowed us to expand and deepen our knowledge of North Korean life.
Aside from being able to hear first hand accounts of living in North Korea, we had the opportunity to see items from North Korea, including hand painted propaganda, casual North Korean clothing and books collected by Mr Kulesza from his time as a tour guide. These provided us with a further understanding of daily life in North Korea, including the media they consume, the current fashion standards and the way North Korean citizens interact with their home - altogether a decidedly different lifestyle from Australians.
Anika Deshmukh (Year 10C) and Lucia Smith (Year 10L)