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​Community given inside look into new women’s prison

Publication date: Monday, 20 November 2017

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Hundreds of Western Sydney residents and descendants of reformed convict Mary Wade were given the rare opportunity to peer beyond prison walls and tour the correctional centre named in her honour before the first group of female inmates move in.

The newly upgraded Mary Wade Correctional Centre at Lidcombe in Sydney’s west unlocked its gates for a community open day on Saturday, 18 November, and offered locals and descendants a chance to meet with staff and see inside the centre.

Governor Paula Quarrie said the event was the perfect opportunity for nearby residents to learn more about the important work of correctional centres.

“This 94-bed maximum security remand centre will play a vital role in rehabilitating female offenders and maintaining community safety,” Governor Quarrie said.

“Our job is to provide these women with the education, skills and therapeutic support needed to find employment and make a positive contribution to the community upon their release.

“This open day was a chance for locals to say hello to staff, ask us questions and gain a better understanding of the important work staff will be doing with the inmates when they arrive.”

Community members took tours of the new facility, inspected an escort van, met with Justice Health nurses and members of the Immediate Action Team, learned about recruitment and saw the Corrective Services NSW Security Operations Group dog squad in action.

As well, visitors enjoyed a free barbecue and refreshments.

Formerly the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre, the site has undergone a number of alterations in recent months, including the refurbishment of existing buildings, increased perimeter fencing and upgrades to electronic security.

Minister for Corrections David Elliott said he hoped inmates in the new prison would use the opportunity to turn their lives around like 13-year-old convict Mary Wade, who became a respected member of society after being transported to NSW on the Second Fleet.

“Mary Wade is one of three prisons we are opening in the next six months, including new facilities at Wellington and Cessnock, to help cater for the state’s rising prisoner population,” Mr Elliott said.

“The NSW Government is also investing more than $237 million to reduce reoffending and help break the cycle of crime. If we get this right, we can make a real and lasting difference to the people of NSW.”

Convenor of the Mary Wade Family Association Bob Stephens said he was proud the centre was named after Mary.

“There are now over 7,000 documented descendants of Mary Wade spread across the world. Notable scions include former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and WW2 Victoria Cross hero Jack Edmondson,” Mr Stephen said.

“While Mary had a difficult beginning to her life, suffering the cruelties of transportation, the death of at least four children, and a harsh life on the land as a pioneer, her example and contribution to Australia has lasted long beyond her lifetime.”

The centre will create around 98 jobs and support CSNSW’s Better Prisons reform program to lift standards, strengthen accountability, and help meet the Government’s commitment to reduce adult reoffending by five per cent.