Workshops a win-win at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre

LEARNING: Kirkconnell Correctional Centre corrective services industries manager Anthony Tait and an inmate. Products such as gates and furniture are produced at the centre.
LEARNING: Kirkconnell Correctional Centre corrective services industries manager Anthony Tait and an inmate. Products such as gates and furniture are produced at the centre.

IT’S not only products such as fencing and gates that are being produced through industry workshops at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre east of Bathurst.

The centre’s corrective services industries manager Anthony Tait says the workshops are also producing new skills and helping inmates in their transition to the workforce.

“Our inmates are very engaged; they come to work and do so with very little complaint,” Mr Tait said.

“Many are also willing to work overtime – they arrive early and leave late.

“We’ve achieved this because we treat them as normal employees, as you would in the private sector. We treat them with respect.

We treat them with respect.

“In the past year, over 15 inmates have been supported in their efforts to gain employment with potential employers.”

The centre has 260 inmates, of which 200 are employed, including 65 in engineering and 15 in the small-motors business unit.

Products manufactured include high-security fencing, pedestrian and vehicle gates, furniture and bed sets, which are principally supplied to other Corrective Services NSW centres.

The NSW Government says the centre is also achieving a minimum 30 per cent cost reduction by making the products in-house, compared with purchasing items from the private sector.

The minimum security centre was reopened in July 2015 after being controversially closed by the NSW Government in 2011.

When the centre reopened, it generated a turnover of $400,000, according to the NSW Government. That figure was $2.2 million in 2016-17 and the centre is on target to repeat that performance in 2017-18.

More than 50 inmates have been enrolled in TAFE-supported traineeships in engineering, small motors and horticulture since 2015.

Mr Tait said he was proud to speak on behalf of what he said was a passionate team including education services co-ordinator Tonya Graham, TAFE teachers Steven Beath, Greg Iacono and Sarah Cox and “our incredibly committed group of overseers”.

“They [inmates] go from considering themselves as having little worth, to a place where they’re confident,” he said.

“I say this to all of my inmates, all of our workers: if you can gain and retain employment in the community, it will enable you to secure a steady income which can lead to increased confidence and positive outcomes for you, your family and friends.

“But you have to work for it, you have to earn it. And here is where it starts.”