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Offenders save dingo sanctuary from going to the dogs

Publication date: Tuesday, 13 March 2018

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A group of specially selected low risk Berrima Correctional Centre inmates are improving the lives of 32 dingoes by taking the load off volunteers at the Bargo Dingo Sanctuary, south west of Sydney. 

Dozens of trailers of leaf debris and overgrowth have been removed from the site in recent months, as Berrima’s community projects group have cut back trees and cleared enclosures – much to the excitement of their new four-legged friends.

Corrective Services NSW Community Projects Overseer Josh Berrell said the intensive restoration work gave offenders the opportunity to develop a social conscience by helping a not-for-profit organisation.

“The sanctuary was very desperate for help so it has been a great boost the offenders’ skills and confidence to get in there, work hard, and really make a difference,” Mr Berrell said.

“It’s a great motivator for the offenders to see the positive impact their work has both on the dingoes’ lives – in the form of cleaner enclosures – and the sanctuary’s ability to care for them.”

The group has donated around 300 hours’ work to the sanctuary, performing land clearing, maintenance, mowing and whipper-snippering. There are also plans to teach the men how to interact with and care for the dingoes in the future.  

Bargo Dingo Sanctuary President Lucille Ellem said the team’s work has been invaluable to the charity, which is devoted to caring for, and educating the public about, the endangered species.

“The team has transformed our messy sanctuary into a picturesque place - the visitors remark on how tidy it is and the dingoes enjoy the company of the men working around them,” Ms Ellem said.

“Their work ethic is amazing; they work hard and enjoy doing the work and are always asking what job they can start next. It is a never ending job, but now with their help the sanctuary will be maintained much easier.”

The group has also restored several heritage gravesites at Sutton Forest’s St Patrick’s Cemetery by weeding, tidying and laying white pebbles on the graves – contributing to the total 1,104 hours’ work returned to the community in January.