John Killick is a 73 year old man with a strong sense of perception and standing within the prisoner community having lived in it for over five decades. He was only recently released on parole in January 2015. As a reformed ex-prisoner his special story is that he’s observed the desperation of lifers, understanding the experiences of those whom have nothing to lose. Life prisoners whom are offered no hope and classed as ‘dangerous’ to other prisoners and to themselves. He has special experiences to share with the standing committee.
Having been in and out of the prison system since 1960, John Killick was seen as extremely dangerous, to be excluded for many decades from the general community and portrayed as an untrusted person within society. He may infamously be known as Australia’s first ‘decimal currency’ bank robber and remembered for his part in an audacious and desperate escape in a helicopter, at the risk of his own life and others. Today he stands as a man in balance with the community, surrounded by supportive family and friends around him, having completed a book of his experiences and about to publish a second. John represents a man previously isolated and distrusted; now having recovered, he exemplifies the philosophies of hope, and effective rehabilitation.
John grew up relatively trouble free, considering he had suffered abuse from his alcoholic father. His problems only started at the age of 17 when his mother committed suicide and this significant milestone led to a very disenfranchised youth to leave home at an early age (the very day his mother passed) only to fall into juvenile detention 7 months later after falling into a troublesome crowd. Since 1960 John has since frequently been in and out of prisons, a result of his crimes which were triggered by his self-proclaimed ‘devil’ – gambling.
Despite his early prison stint, John was a repeat-offender, with multiple prison stints during his life. He describes prison as ‘the very opposite of a normal society’ which instead fosters a different code of ethics. He described his period in Goulburn as a place which ‘was not rehab but brutal punishment and retribution, fuelling hate and recidivism, requiring a strong will.’ He describes the prison system as being overcrowded and understaffed with not enough programs to help people improve their situation. John attributed his psychological problem with gambling as underlying his criminal actions and led to his reoffending. During his early stints in prison he had received minimal support in managing this.
During his time in prison very few prospects were offered to John, removing his chance of reintegration within the community. He was denied the opportunities to partake in the work crews or day releases, due to his high security classification. John relates his experiences of long-term prisoners being denied parole opportunities when eligible, because of a ‘lack of external leave’ (weekend leave, study leave or work leave). In fact, the prosecution cited this ‘lack of integration’ to quash his 2013 parole hearing. The experience led to a decline in his health and exacerbated his high blood pressure.
In 2007 and again in 2010 John was able to participate in two gambling courses that offered him gambling support and assisted him in managing his addiction and put him on the right road for successful rehabilitation. In 2010 he was also afforded the chance to undertake the ‘Violent Offenders Therapeutic Program’. In addition to these rehabilitative programs, they were also combined with educational support administered via correspondence with Strathfield TAFE, under the supervision of Carla Molina in writing courses (novel and short story).
This expounded on John’s previous studies in writing under Ian Mudie, with his involvement in writing and future publishing supported by both famous Victorian writer John Kerr and also renowned Professor, Ian Plimer. The ultimate result of these steps has been an effective rehabilitation of a man who has undergone a transition from a convicted armed robber to a valued member of society. John now enjoys visiting cafes and seeing movies with his family, as well as writing and publishing books.