A COUPLE of stars are still visible in the black sky, holding onto the last few minutes before the sun rises, but the first lot of cows is already hooked up to cups and is being milked.
There is plenty to do in the dairy this morning, with 169 cows to milk.
On other parts of the farm, work is yet to start.
When the sun does finally show itself, the rolling green hills covered in fog are visible and it could be any farm south of Perth but there is something different about this one.
This is the Karnet Prison Farm.
On this farm, prisoners work to produce the milk, meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables for almost the entire West Australian prison system.
The only obvious difference at this farm near Serpentine are the clothes the workers are wearing.
Most are in dark green outfits, a few are wearing blue official-looking uniforms and some others in the packing room have white jumpers with red writing on the back which say ‘Karnet Dairy.”
Karnet Prison Farm is a minimum security prison.
Inmates have usually spent time in other, harsher prisons before coming to Karnet where the process of reintegration begins.
They spend most of their time in what looks similar to a mining camp, with donga type buildings dotting the area surrounded by a 4.6m high security fence.
A 63-year-old prisoner who works in the dairy said getting up early and working helped the time pass easier.
“When I first got here I was sitting on my butt for most of the day; time goes so slowly, it creates animosity and fights,” he said.
“I love getting up at 5am, it makes the days fly by and under the circumstances, this is a good thing,” he said.
Prisoners sign out as they leave the fenced area each day for work on the farm, for which they receive an allowance of up to about $50 a week.
Those who end up in Karnet have been screened to ensure they are suitable choices for minimum security.
Taking part in work not only helps the prison system to work towards self-sustainability but gives the prisoners opportunities to learn skills that could help them readjust more easily into society when they are released.
Prisoners can incorporate training into their work; they can complete traineeships, gain accreditation certificates and also get a forklift ticket.
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