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​Offenders return $30k to community each month

Published date: Thursday 13 September 2018

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Illawarra Reintegration Centre inmates are building better facilities for scouts, soccer players –and even birds of prey - while contributing up to $30,000 work to the community eachmonth.

The group of 25 carefully selected minimum-security inmates spent 1,722 working-hours in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands communities last month as part of the centre’s Community Projects Team.

Illawarra Reintegration Centre Governor Faith Slatcher said the team had taken on work for Berrima Correctional Centre as it transitioned from a male to female prison.

“Our Community Project Team is a fabulous support for many local groups who don’t always have the time, money or volunteers available to keep up with their organisations’ needs,” Ms Slatcher said.

“In August alone our team completed vital building, maintenance and grounds-keeping work at 19 sites, including a bird rehabilitation facility at Fitzroy Falls, the Bong Bong Racecourse, Moss Vale Showground and Bargo Dingo Sanctuary.

“By taking on this additional community work we’re able to support these organisations through Berrima Correctional Centre’s transition, while providing opportunities for offenders to learn different skills.”

The teams are led by Corrective Services NSW overseers with trade qualifications, who provide the offenders with valuable skills and training.

Their recent work includes repairs to Higher Grounds Raptors aviaries, building a retaining wall at the Corrimal Cougars Rugby League Football Club, building a deck at Tarrawanna Soccer Club, installing bench seats at Mt Keira Scout Camp and painting jumps at the Stony Range Pony Club.

Overseer Mark Gallagher said the projects help offenders develop a strong work ethic, complete goals and strengthen their ties with the community.

“Community work programs provide offenders with the opportunity to learn practical skills in a work-like environment while improving our sports clubs and green spaces,” Mr Gallagher said.

“Offenders need to plan ahead and work collaboratively to complete the projects, ensuring they have the right attitude and skills to enter paid employment upon their release.”