Reducing Young Adult Reoffending: An External Evaluation of the Wandoo Reintegration Model

Ms Lana Sandas1

1Serco Asia Pacific, Sydney , Australia

Like so many in the Justice system, as a teenager, Lana was affected by poor mental health and subsequently went on to become a chronic heroin user. Following years of neglected trauma, countless overdoses and failed rehabilitation, it was in fact her first encounter with the Justice system that proved to be the well-overdue intervention needed to turn her life around. Lana was afforded the rare opportunity to participate in an intense diversionary program as opposed to remaining in prison; an alternative that promoted education, employment and self-advocacy. Eternally grateful for such a life-changing initiative she has dedicated her career (and personal life) to ensuring that other at-risk community members are afforded the same style of intervention.

After graduating with a Political Science degree from the University of New South Wales and becoming a qualified Drug and Alcohol Counsellor, Lana was one of very few professionals with prior criminal convictions authorised to work in State-run prisons. She went on to provide multiple sectors with insight, guidance and systemic recommendations as an expert panellist, keynote speaker and program consultant. She has been officially recognised for her ability to tackle conventional issues via an innovative yet evidence-based approach.

Now working for Serco- one of the largest prison operators in the world- Lana stays close to active Serco-run contracts including Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (SQCC), Acacia Prison (WA), Wandoo (Youth) Reintegration Facility (WA), Auckland South Correctional Facility (ASCF) and the Clarence Correctional Centre Transition Team (aka. New Grafton, to be opened in 2020).

Her professional and personal experiences coupled with Serco’s local and global excellence have allowed the company, together with their community partners, to develop effective and inspiring interventions which are of social and economic benefit to individuals, families, communities and Governments.

Reducing Reoffending: An External Evaluation of the Wandoo Reintegration Model

To be presented by Lana Sandas, Community Justice Director at Serco Asia Pacific

In early 2018, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conducted an external evaluation of the Wandoo Reintegration Facility in Western Australia. The purpose of their research was to determine how (if at all) Serco’s approach to rehabilitation and reintegration was one that impacted on recidivism in a meaningful and sustainable manner.

The Wandoo Reintegration Facility was a minimum security prison for males aged between 18 and 28 years, a large portion of whom presented as serial recidivists involved in the Justice system since childhood. Approximately 30% of the facility’s residents identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and over 90% struggled with chronic substance abuse prior to their imprisonment.

Until Wandoo’s eventual closure in May 2018, the facility was run by private operator, Serco for just over five years. It employed a tailored rehabilitation and reintegration model that was thoughtfully co-designed and based on empirical evidence of youth-specific desistence factors that influence reoffending, including employment, education, housing, sobriety, self-advocacy and a belonging to community.  The Wandoo model, whilst managed by Serco, was delivered in conjunction with the community sector – operating on a philosophy that if an offender is removed from the community and subsequently unable to access community-based services then the only reasonable thing to do is invite the community in.

Via a multifaceted methodology and critical quantitative and qualitative process, PwC determined that Wandoo’s recidivism rate (two years post release) was 28.2% compared a national average of 44.8%. They attributed this to key desistence factors promoted by Serco and their community partners.

This oral presentation will be delivered by Lana Sandas, Serco’s Community Justice Director. Lana will present, on PwC’s behalf, the published report and the established factors to such a reduction in reoffending. She will also draw from her own personal journey of substance abuse and imprisonment, and how a model similar to that of Wandoo is what ultimately turned her life around.



Community Justice Director, Serco Asia Pacific

Offering directorship, frontline service delivery, academia and lived experience relating to substance abuse and the justice system.

Throughout the last decade, Lana has implemented and overseen evidence-based corrective and rehabilitative models that afford our community’s most vulnerable and marginalised members with trauma informed care, lifelong coping mechanisms and sustainable protective factors.

Within Serco’s Justice sector, Lana leads in the area of rehabilitation and reintegration, in addition to directing an innovative approach to community engagement and collaboration. In essence, Lana’s contributions to outcome-focused design processes strive to reduce reoffending.

Lana joined Serco after having been the CEO of a NSW not-for-profit, the Women’s Justice Network. As this organisation’s leader and cohort advocate, she managed multiple pre and post-release programs for those affected by the criminal justice system, particularly youth and women. Throughout Lana’s time as CEO, the organisation’s two-year recidivism rate was reduced to a record-breaking seven per cent.

Her aspirations at Serco are not dissimilar and are fuelled by a well-balanced amalgamation of frontline experience, academic qualifications and a unique personal journey.


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