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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Prisoners train as croc handlers
Saltwater crocodile
The farm in Darwin has 36,000 saltwater crocodiles
Prisoners in northern Australia are being offered a snappy new way of rehabilitating - by training as crocodile handlers.

Inmates are learning how to deal with crocodiles, repair crocodile fences, build enclosures and write reports.

Northern Territory's justice minister Syd Stirling said the scheme was the first of its kind in the country.

It would give inmates nearing release "real life skills that they can use back in their communities", he added.

Five prisoners from Darwin Correction Centre are currently involved in the 11-week pilot scheme.

They are undergoing their training at Darwin Crocodile Farm, one of Australia's largest such farms housing more than 36,000 saltwater crocodiles.


The farm's owner, Mick Burns, said the scheme benefited both the prisoners and his reptiles.

"This not only assists in the maintenance of the farm itself, but provides life skills which will ultimately be put back into the community," he said.

Syd Stirling said the course gave prisoners a number of skills - not just crocodile handling - that could be used in a wide-number of industries once they are released.

The aim is to stop prisoners from re-offending once they are back in their communities, he said.

"The course... helps with the rehabilitation of prisoners," he said. "Even the value of developing a work ethic in preparation for release cannot be underestimated."

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