If you had told Helen Black of Work Restart she would have been working with people in prison four years ago, she would have laughed at you. “I’d never really thought about people behind bars, I’d had no experience with incarceration.”

Helen is now convinced of the power of second chances and fearless empathy. She has a proven track record for bringing innovative ideas to prisons to reduce re-offending rates, founding Reboot, Australia’s first digital studio in a prison, Pivot, the Prison Entrepreneurial Program and incorporating social enterprises inside.

“I’m passionate about assisting a group of people that some in society feel don’t deserve any help. Yes, this is a gritty, complex problem, but it is one we need to lean about. Many incarcerated individuals have been the victims of traumatic childhoods, abuse, neglect, homelessness and drugs.” Helen is determined to reduce Australia’s reoffending rate to be one of the best in the world. “Even with all the greatest intentions, the system is not working, we need to shift our thinking and look for innovative solutions if we are to achieve meaningful change”.

In 2018, Helen received a Westpac Social Change fellowship which allowed her to travel to prisons in the USA and UK and visit ‘best practice’ organisations working with incarcerated people. While there were many good things happening overseas, the trip also made Helen realise that the work WorkRestart is doing is not only revolutionary in Australia but worldwide too.

WorkRestart was named one of SheEO’s Australian ventures for 2020. “Given the upheaval of this year, the support of the SheEO group has been incredible. When you mix radical generosity with fearless compassion, great things happen.”  This support has enabled WorkRestart to keep growing our impact and progress expanding their model.  “This couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Readers also enjoyed our story about EMPHN CEO Janine Wilson