From prison to a promising career - Alex's journey

Published by MAXSolutions on July 12, 2022
Female working in shipbuilding yard

Alex readily admits her own choices set her on a downward spiral that ultimately landed her in prison.


This is how she went from serving time in prison to landing a Mechanical Fitter apprenticeship with Incat, a global leader in ship building.

Sailing close to the wind


Alex doesn’t blame anyone else for the choices she made that landed her in prison in Tasmania, however the young woman faced tragedy and challenges in her childhood that most don’t.

When she arrived in Sydney as a teenager without having finished high school, Alex started working in hospitality to afford life in the expensive city.

Working in bars and nightclubs, Alex was offered jobs earning increasingly more money in an environment where drugs and alcohol flowed freely.

“From there you become part of a crew, drugs were always there – it was just the scene at the time,” says Alex. 

It was only a matter of time before the law caught up with Alex. She was arrested and ultimately convicted of drug offences and sentenced to serve time in prison in Tasmania. 

“I’m disgusted in myself when I look back now. I was on a downhill spiral, and the only thing that pulled me out of the situation was being put in jail,” she shares. 

In deep water

In the confines of prison, Alex faced a lot of her own demons for the first time.

“In jail I dealt with a lot of my baggage without suppressing it with drugs or alcohol,” she shares. “I came to terms with what I’d lost, what was and what wasn’t going to be.” 
“I’m so grateful for being pulled out of that life, because if it didn’t happen, I would have had my life ruined, or even ended up dead,” she says. 

After serving nearly 18 months in prison in Hobart, Alex was paroled in 2020 with a range of conditions, including that she stay in Hobart for the duration of her parole.

High and dry

Alex was released in into a city without family, a social network, stable housing or transport. 

Her parole conditions prevented her from being in licenced venues and working in hospitality was no longer an option. 

With a conviction and no other experience, Alex faced an uphill battle in the search for work with employers unwilling to give her a chance. She felt like the system was working against her. 

“Once I was out and dealing with it [life after prison] myself, I really understood why people give up and go back in,” she says. 

Despite the challenges, Alex refused to be deterred. 

“I had it in my head that people expected me to go back to jail, and I wanted to prove them wrong,” she shares. 


Changing course

Given many employers would avoid hiring Alex because of her criminal history, she was drawn towards a career change and construction appealed to her. 

The path towards work in construction can be difficult for those without prior experience or relevant ticket qualifications so joining forces with Alex and her steely resolve, the MAX team in Hobart helped her navigate that path.

“MAX helped me out, helped me get a heap of tickets. They provided legit everything I needed to get into construction work,” says Alex. 

Her MAX team connected her with local employer Incat who offered Alex a labouring role. 

From fast passenger ferries to high-speed vessels, Incat builds lightweight ships for ferry operators and special service providers across the world. Much of their success is built around their workforce in Hobart.

The Incat team is committed to supporting a diverse, inclusive and respectful workforce and welcomes people from all walks of life to join their team.

Learning the ropes

Within weeks of starting Alex was offered a small promotion from labourer to trade assistant and the MAX team helped pay for her to undertake a power tool handling course. 

Working in this new role, Alex had her eyes opened to the scale of the work at Incat. 

“I got to see another part of the company and see the parts of the boats being put together. I loved being part of a crew and seeing how the boat was built. It felt so good to be part of something – I’d never felt anything like it in hospitality roles,” she shares. 

Determined to carve out her place in the impressive workplace, Alex worked hard awaiting Incat’s next apprenticeship intake.

Darcy, Alex’s Placement Consultant at MAX aided her to write her application, helping her to get to the next round of the process which involved an aptitude test and interview.

Sink or swim 

Having left school in year nine, Alex was worried she would struggle with the test, so started studying and completing practice tests online.

Her hard work paid off.

“I got offered one of four mechanical fitter apprenticeship positions in the Certificate IV in Engineering – Mechanical Fitting,” she says. 
I was thinking I hope I don’t get this far and be rubbish at it – because I had never welded or touched a power tool until I did my power tool course,” she says. 

But her worries proved unfounded, impressing her course teacher early on with a drill gauge she made.

“My tutor said it was one of the best he’d ever seen,” she says. 

Now in steady work, studying a trade and living in her own rental accommodation, Alex has settled into her new community a vastly different person to the one that arrived.


Stemming the tide

“I want my experience to help others,” says Alex. 
“It felt like the system wanted me to fail. Being out on parole was harder than doing the time – it felt like the world was against me. 
“I want to be able to speak on behalf of people like me who feel like it’s too hard to change their lives after jail. But there is a way out. 
“It’s easy to give up and go back to your old ways, but it’s worth pushing through it and making change,” she says. 


We’re delighted to have been part of Alex’s journey out of incarceration, into work and into a new life. 

Having been part of the team supporting Alex over the past 18 months, MAX Regional Manager Georgie Price shares her reflections about Alex.

“Alex has been inspirational in the way she has turned her life around. She is proof that anyone can make different choices and change their future,” says Ms Price. 

Alex came to MAX through the Salvation Army’s Beyond the Wire program. This program is providing support to prisoners exiting the correction service – from pre-release through to accommodation and specialist support post release. 

Alex speaks fondly of Ian and Leigh who she connected with through this program, and who were also part of her support crew as she got on her feet in Tasmania. 

Beyond the Wire works hand in hand with MAX’s CHOICE program, a program run in partnership with the Tasmanian Prison Service and Community Corrections. CHOICE provides former offenders subject to parole orders with increased access to employment, health and social support services to increase job readiness and engagement. 


Alex is just one of thousands of customers we are supporting into sustainable work. Can we support you?

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