​Prison generating profits, tradespeople for Central West

Publication date: Wednesday, 14 March 2018

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A Central West correctional centre is on target to generate turnover of $2 million through its industry workshops this financial year while providing more than 35 TAFE-supported traineeships to assist inmates with their transition into the workforce.

Kirkconnell Correctional Centre’s Corrective Services Industries Manager Anthony Tait and his team of 14 trade-overseers are not only encouraging self-esteem among prisoners, they’re producing skilled tradespeople for the region.

“Our inmates are very engaged; they come to work and do so with very little complaint. Many are also willing to work overtime – they arrive early and leave late,” Mr Tait said.

“We’ve achieved this because we treat them as normal employees, as you would in the private sector. We treat them with respect. In the past year, over 15 inmates have been supported in their efforts to gain employment with potential employers.”

The centre has 260 inmates, of which 200 are employed including 65 in engineering - the primary industry and, a further 15 in the small-motors business unit.

Products manufactured include high-security fencing, pedestrian and vehicles gates, furniture and bed sets, which are principally supplied to other CSNSW centres. Products are also manufactured for the private sector, a flow-on benefit being the opportunity to explore reintegration pathways for trainees - an outcome that has great benefit on many levels.

The centre is also achieving a minimum 30 per cent cost reduction by making the products in-house, compared to purchasing items from the private sector.

When the minimum-security centre reopened in July 2015, it generated a turnover of $400,000; $2.2 million in 2016-17, and is on target to repeat this in 2017-18.

Aiding the prospect of employment is the integration of TAFE-supported traineeships in engineering, small motors and horticulture, with more than 50 inmates enrolled since 2015.

Paul Toole MP, State Member for Bathurst, congratulated Kirkconnell on its positive input. “The staff do a great job in creating industry and employment, making an excellent contribution to the economy of the Central West.”

Mr Tait said he was proud to speak on behalf of a passionate team including Education Services Coordinator Tonya Graham, TAFE teachers Steven Beath, Greg Iacono and Sarah Cox and our incredibly committed group of Overseers.

“For us, it has been a very good achievement. For the inmates it has been fantastic. They go from considering themselves as having little worth, to a place where they’re confident,” Mr Tait said.

“I say this to all of my inmates, all of our workers: if you can gain and retain employment in the community, it will enable you to secure a steady income which can lead to increased confidence and positive outcomes for you, your family and friends.

“But you have to work for it, you have to earn it. And here is where it starts.