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Inmates welding links to the community

Formal qualifications support job-readiness

Publication date: Friday, 7 October 2016

Starting next month, and for the first time, 15 carefully selected minimum security inmates from the Kirkconnell Correctional Centre in the state's Central West will undertake the 12-month Certificate II in Engineering.

The engineering traineeships will be delivered by TAFE and managed by four correctional officer overseers who have a background in the trade.

The 15 inmates who will participate in the course were selected from more than 20 applicants. On completing the certificate, the inmates will have a formal qualification that will help make them job-ready when they're released from custody.

Kirkconnell's Corrective Services Industries boss Anthony Tait said it was important to provide practical opportunities and trade skills for inmates.

"The first aim of our new engineering workshop is to provide a place where component products can be manufactured for correctional centres across the state," Mr Tait said.

"The second aim is to provide an opportunity for inmates to learn new skills and gain qualifications that will improve their chances of being employed and make their integration back into the community more positive."

Training will be conducted at a new purpose-built workshop at the Kirkconnell centre. Inmates transformed the centre's former wood workshop to establish the Corrective Services Industries engineering workshop in November 2015.

In the workshop, 60 inmates use trade machinery to build modular components, bunk beds and outdoor furniture sets for the state's correctional centres. The workshop is also used to restore about 30 old charity clothing bins for The Smith Family each month, and manufacturing new clothing bins and vehicle trailers has commenced.

The workshop's small motor section employees about 20 inmates to service and maintain correctional centre lawn mowers, whipper snippers, trimmers and other landscaping tools. Planning is underway to expand this service to other correctional services and community corrections offices.

Through its contracts with The Smith Family, Corrective Services NSW and private clients, the workshop had a turnover of $400,000 between January and June this year.

The Kirkconnell Correctional Centre is located between Lithgow and Bathurst. Kirkconnell is a minimum-security facility that houses 240 inmates. It was reopened in July 2015.

​​​CSI Kirkconnell boss Anthony Tait and engineering overseersAbove: CSI Kirkconnell boss Anthony Tait and engineering overseers.