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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

National Corrections Day: Reaping the rewards of community work

One of the most rewarding aspects of Sue-Ann McNeil’s job is how her offenders on community-service orders are helping contribute to a variety of not-for-profit organisations, including a company that employs people living with intellectual and physical disabilities. “There is a small Far South Coast organisation supporting people living with disability to lead busy and productive lives. This organisation produces many items, some of which are sold in bulk through a large hardware chain across the country,” Ms McNeil says. “They’ve told us that without the contributing work of the offenders, there is no way they would be able to fulfil their orders and they are so grateful for the work we do.” Batemans Bay Community Corrections officer Sue-Ann McNeil is just one of the more than 9,000 Corrective Services NSW staff being celebrated for their commitment to community safety on National Corrections Day, Friday 18 January.

CSNSW staff includes custodial officers, inmate services and programs staff, psychologists and parole officers. The 2019 National Corrections Day theme is Working Corrections, focussing on inmate industries and community service work. There are about 1,600 Community Corrections staff across the state, supervising offenders on parole and court-ordered community-service work. Ms McNeil joined CSNSW in 2011 and immediately found her niche running communityservice work programs for offenders on court orders. These offenders have committed a range of crimes and are ordered by the court to complete between 50-750 hours of unpaid work. The 52-year-old Ms McNeil is responsible for finding and partnering-up with the not-for-profit and community-based organisations, which would benefit from such an arrangement. “Our area covers offenders from Kioloa in the north, to Wallaga Lake in the south, and we work for organisations including churches, sporting groups, cemeteries, Marine Rescue, St Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army and the Tuross Lakes Preservation Group,” she says. “One of the most important factors is the careful assignment of offenders to agencies, as that can make or break our partnerships. We also don’t want to set the offenders up for failure. We try to place offenders in agencies where they’ll be most beneficial and helpful. They are very closely monitored and go through an extensive suitability check. “For some offenders it’s the first time they have participated in a normal work situation, so they can gain confidence and skills which they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do. “Some of them have even gained full time work from this – I know of at least three people who have recently gained a permanent position, which is really rewarding for me and makes me proud of the work we are doing.”

FACT SHEET: Corrective Services Industries  CSNSW has about 650 Corrective Services Industries’ staff who oversee inmates undertaking work, training and other qualifications to help reintegrate them into the community and reduce reoffending.  Corrective Service Industries’ sales were $137.8 million in the past financial year, with the majority being items used by CSNSW or other government departments.  The net contribution of Corrective Services Industries sales was almost $13 million in the past financial year and this was injected back into prisons to reduce the cost of operations.  There are about 5,700 inmates employed by Corrective Services Industries in more than 100 commercial business units and service industries teams across the state.  Vocational training improves offenders’ employment opportunities when they are released from custody. Employment is one factor that helps reduce the risk of reoffending.  Another of the aims of prison industries, where inmates make their own clothes and prepare their own food, is to substantially reduce the cost to NSW taxpayers. CSI Food Services each week supplies:  82, 537 breakfast rations  68,879 dinner pro-serve meals  25,750 dinner salad meals  4,910 special diet meals  60,288 weekday lunch meals (includes sandwiches and lunch packs)  33,297 weekend lunch meals (excluding pies and sausage rolls)  12,918 pies  9,512 sausage rolls  46,890 baked dessert goods  27,000 bread loaves  55,000 apples  108,700 x 300ml milk cartons  9,000kg vegetables  5,700 bulk dressed salads CSI furniture and upholstery manufactured more than 80,000 components in 2018:  Timber bed bases  Conference tables  Work stations  General purpose tables  External picnic tables and seating  Chairs, lounges and beam seating  Bookshelves  Cell mattresses and pillows CSI Engineering manufactured more than 10,000 metal components in 2018:  Maximum-security single beds  Maximum-security bunk beds  General purpose beds  Cell desks, stools, mirrors and notice boards  Visits table and stools  Security fencing and gates

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