17th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Rydges World Square, Sydney
19th-21st June 2024

Stepping Up

Daniel Vansetten

Level Up - legal Rights Advocate

My name is Daniel Vansetten. I was incarcerated from 2010 to 2022, from age 34 to 46. Prior to my incarceration I had worked as a team leader for a communications company where my role involved providing IT support to internet customers. That employment gave me a sound understanding of the necessary elements required for people to improve and develop new skills, not just for work but for all life.
After suffering a catastrophic mental health decline, I committed serious offences resulting in incarceration. I had high hopes of using my prison sentence for personal development, to learn, to reform, to ensure I re-entered the community with all the skills and tools to succeed as a positively contributing member of society. I soon realised, however, that goal was inconsistent with the goals of the prison authorities. My efforts to learn were despised by authorities, who attempted to thwart such action. My persistence was met with ongoing intimidation, bullying, threats and eventually positive abuse in an attempt to undermine my credibility as a reformed ex-offender.
The sustained abuse from prison authorities only succeeded in directing my study towards law. I spent my last four years in prison learning law and teaching my peers their rights as people in prison. I am now enrolled for a Bachelor of Laws at university, having completed almost two years of study, achieving no less than a distinction in my grades. I have remained a strong advocate against abuse of power and for prison reform.

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