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​​Inmates forging their way towards a better future

Issued: October 20, 2016

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Hundreds of South Coast Correctional Centre inmates are working towards a better future with record levels of employment across all NSW prisons.

Learning to weld, drive a forklift or assemble office cabinetry are just some of the ways inmates can up-skill while in custody.

Commissioner Peter Severin said Corrective Services Industries gave inmates an opportunity to learn valuable trade skills ahead of their release.

“Our aim is to equip inmates with the knowledge and practical skills needed to walk out of our gates and into the workforce,” Mr Severin said.

“At our furniture workshop inmates are trained to use state of the art cutting equipment and complete product-drawings to professional standards – two skills valued by the industry.

The workshop

“By providing on-the-job and formal training, inmates are better placed to find employment and make a positive contribution to the community upon their release.

“CSI is also a highly successful business enterprise, providing more than $110 million in sales state-wide in the year to June, 2016, while supporting correctional centres to become more self-sufficient.”

Minister for Corrections David Elliott said an inmate’s ability to learn new skills was an important part of their rehabilitation.

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing re-offending by five per cent and having the opportunity to learn job-based skills is an important part of reaching that target,” he said.

“I have been impressed with the level of training and work being done at South Coast Correctional Centre, as well as the other prisons across the state.”

Equipping inmates with qualifications and practical skills is part of a wider CSNSW plan to reduce the annual rate of adult reoffending by five per cent by 2019.

At the Nowra-based South Coast Correctional Centre, CSI employs around two-thirds of the centre’s population – more than 430 inmates – in its commercial business units or service industries.

Of that group there are 36 inmates participating in a variety of traineeships including engineering, furniture building, business administration, transport and logistics warehousing.

Inmate using a cutting machine

Another 14 inmates are studying for distance education qualifications.

The furniture workshop produces office furniture for both CSNSW and private clients, and is currently working on the refurbishment fit-out of the Mary Wade Correctional Centre, at

Lidcombe in Sydney’s west. It employs up to 45 maximum security inmates at any given time.

The engineering unit is currently manufacturing cell furniture for CSNSW ‘rapid-build’ prisons, including shelving units, bunk beds and cell door-hatches. Inmates in this unit are trained to weld, use plasma cutters and bending machines.

More than 100 inmates also work in the centre’s packing and assembly, and laundry business units.

South Coast Correctional Centre runs a variety of short course programs including driver licence literacy, chemical handling, construction induction and forklift driving.

In the year to June, 2016, about 80 per cent of the state’s eligible inmate population was employed. During the same period CSI provided sales of $113.1 million.