Tyrone Brooks has spent several years of his life behind bars, something that is becoming more common every year among Australians.
The country’s prison population was at a record high last year, and has continued to grow since then, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The current rate per 100,000 people is the highest seen in Victoria since 1896.
“I was originally from Tasmania,” says Tyrone. “My mum was with a guy who was on the run. So we grew up in the back of a white 1972 model HQ. I never really went to school.”
Tyrone was 10-years-old when he came to mainland Australia, where his family eventually settled in Moe. He finally started at school when he was 14.
“That’s when I got into a lot of trouble, getting into fights. On my 22nd assault charge, the judge told me ‘The public is not putting up with it anymore Mr Brooks!’ And that was what locked me up.”
And while more than half of ex-prisoners are back in jail after less than five years on the outside, Tyrone actively sought employment as soon as he was released and now feels appreciation for the first time.
“Working full-time has stopped me from reoffending. It stops me from taking drugs. It calms me down. I think having a job raises your self-esteem,” he says.