Shafts of Light: A book of Sycamore stories

Shafts of Light: A book of Sycamore stories

A collection of stories and quotations from participants in the Sycamore Tree Project in Western Australia. They are compiled in a 40-page e-Book for you to download.

It’s success in engaging both victims of crime and offenders is well acknowledged, providing the opportunity to explore important life issues through Teamwork and cooperation… I have personally viewed the victims and offenders address their own personal issues and develop a greater understanding of “empathy”.
Graham Bond, Assistance Superintendent

Prisoner Management, Karnet Prison Farm, Western Australia
There have been ten programs run at Acacia with over 60 offenders participating. The Sycamore Tree project is highly regarded within Acacia and is seen as a major pillar in our desire to deliver prison services from a Restorative Justice perspective. The Prison Fellowship Sycamore Tree Project is an integral element of the resettlement strategy. Acacia strongly supports this funding application.
Andrew Beck, Director ACACIA PRISON, Western Australia

Download: Shafts of Light (PDF 1.1mb)


I only wish that other secondary victims of crime could experience what I have and see that we don’t need to be prisoners of pain and hate… and fear. There is a better way to experience life in the aftermath of violent crime…. and it is really the only way we will ever be free… This course has helped me to forgive myself for past transgressions and has helped me to move to a place where I can see that forgiving the person who killed my daughter is possible.
Karen – STP Participant WA 2006

In the last 15 years, I have spent 13 1/2 years within the system. I have done countless courses – some good, some bad. Without a shadow of a doubt the Sycamore Tree Project is the best thing that could ever have happened to me. The sheer rawness of emotions it delivers and the understanding and compassion it releases within people gives you a sense of hope for the future for everyone involved. Jeremy – Inmate STP Participant WA 2006
The Sycamore Tree Project is like nothing I have participated in before. Although the course has a structure, I feel that it is the participants that take the course on its journey. It tests the edge and pushes the boundaries. It truly is based on honesty, trust and respect. There is no judgement and definitely no `BS’.
Elizabeth STP Participant WA 2008

At the conclusion of one of our sessions, as everyone was politely shaking hands, I received an almighty shock…. one of the victims hugged me! I think she surprised herself more than me because she said ‘I shouldn’t do this… ahh, who cares!’
Sam Inmate STP Participant WA 2008

Prisoners need to be involved with restoring what they have damaged whether through work, education or other means. We are too far removed from the reality of our actions. Punishment is only a small part of rehabilitation and courses such as the Sycamore Tree Project go a long way to connecting the perpetrators to his role in the suffering he has caused.
Gerald Inmate STP Participant WA 2008

The Sycamore Tree Project has changed my life. Now I have friends coming and going from my house all the time. I am excited about the next project and I have cut back my work hours to be part of it. I have a reason to go on with my life. My thoughts have stopped taking me down the dark alley and mugging me. Life is definitely worth living.
To be able to sit among complete strangers who had been direct victims of crimes and hear their stories and see the pain in their eyes was truly confronting and gave me the determination never to be the person I was before. It also showed me through the passage of time the path to forgiveness could be reached.
Read by Gordon (also convicted of murder), at his graduation.

“Today I have released a lot of my hatred and am free from a prison that I had no idea held me captive. It was not apparent to me that my hate and anger towards many people in my life held me captive. Seeing other people deal with their pain in a compassionate and selfless way truly inspired me to re-examine my anger.
Seeing the participants in the Sycamore Tree Project and the pain they carried also gave me a chance to review some of the pain that I had caused my victims. It was like looking into a mirror but instead of seeing my pain, I saw others’. What I was told about Jess’s father came as a shock to me. In the re-union meeting we had on June 12th, where I learned that I contributed somehow to changes in Jess’s father’s life, I was almost speechless. It played with me emotionally for days to come. Tell Jess’s dad that all I said came from the heart and I wish him and Karen all the best in all they do.”

Peter a 21 year old prisoner (a Sudanese refugee) who himself witnessed the murder and torture of family members and friends in the Sudanese civil war.


Martin lives in Brisbane Australia and loves meeting and writing about the amazing people who are changing our justice system. He is a prison facilitator for the Sycamore Tree Project in Queensland, Australia.