Dhurringile prisoners barred from playing in KDFL while program reviewed

By Lauren Bordin

No Dhurringile prisoners will take the field in Kyabram District Football League today.

There are nine prisoners playing at local football clubs in the district, with an additional nine taking part in voluntary roles.

But none will fulfil either their playing or voluntary duties today, to provide Corrections Victoria time to review the day release program due to a government request.

Dylan Closter — who was convicted of the manslaughter of David Cassai in 2012 — has played 12games for Rushworth this season and his participation has recently thrust the program into the spotlight.

Murchison-Toolamba, Merrigum and Rushworth have all used players from the rehabilitation program this year, but no incidents have occurred on-field and it is understood the program could resume for the final two rounds of the season.

The program has been run on and off for decades and was reinstated when clubs approached Dhurringile prison in 2011 to improve player numbers.

With prisoners also fielding a side in Cricket Shepparton competition, a Corrections Victoria spokesperson said there was rarely an issue with the sporting program.

‘‘The opportunity to play local sport is part of a range of community work and reintegration programs run by minimum security prisons,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘Prisoners playing football remain under strict and constant supervision at all times while in the community.

‘‘Prisoner involvement in local football has been very successful, but where any issues are identified with a prisoner’s conduct, prison management will liaise with the club and the league and take appropriate action as required.’’

Accepting prisoners to play is optional, with Corrections Victoria responsible for deciding who is eligible.

‘‘Offenders approved to play have the lowest possible security classification and are carefully selected based on behaviour and risk assessment,’’ the Corrections Victoria spokesperson said.

‘‘Prison management works closely with clubs and the league to facilitate their involvement, and the prisoners must also meet any club eligibility requirements.’’