Jailbirds gets ready for take-off

A FILM director has been inspired by a rehabilitation program involving Beechworth prisoners nursing some of the most dangerous birds of prey back to health.

Healing, released in cinemas this month, stars names including Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) and Don Hany (Offspring).

Beechworth Correctional Centre works in with Healesville Sanctuary to care for injured birds so they can be released back into the wild.

The program started at Won Wron prison and moved to Beechworth after the Gippsland prison closed in 2005.

Healing, directed by Craig Monahan, follows the progress of a long-term Won Wron prisoner as he takes care of an injured eagle as a way of preparing him for life outside.

“The set and the prison environment — it’s very realistic,” Beechworth general manager Terry Jose said.

The Beechworth prison played an important role in the research of the film.

“The director, cast and crew made numerous trips here,” Mr Jose said.

“They took sound recordings of things like PA announcements to use in the film.”

Mr Jose attended the premiere in Melbourne this month with Corrections Victoria deputy commissioner Rod Wise.

“I was watching it and I could identify voices on the PA,” he said.

More than 40 birds, including wedge-tailed eagles, falcons, and owls, have been nursed back to health at Beechworth.

The film’s producers will send a DVD of the film to Beechworth for the prisoners to watch.

“The film showcased the great work prisoners do,” Mr Jose said.

“It shows the connection with the birds and how the program prepares prisoners for their own release.”

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