At today's press call John Barilaro was questioned on the source of the initial case that brought about the current Eurobodalla Lock Down. When it was put to him that the Primary may have been a prisoner released from Parklea Correctional Facility who arrived into the shire, ignored a self isolation requirement and instead attended a party, the Deputy Premier responded saying he couldn't talk about "certain aspects of cases under privacy rules".
He did, however, say "This is one scenario where I'm not allowed, now I've said this before, locals have a very good understanding of what's occurring in their community."
"There's probably a lot of chatter on the ground in Batemans Bay and on the South Coast and I would say rarely is it wrong - is it 100 per cent correct, maybe not - but it's in the ballpark." Based on this statement it appears that the "chatter" that the Primary Case of Covid Delta into the Eurobodalla came from the Parklea Correctional Facility
What is also in the "chatter" is that the subsequent cases in the Eurobodalla stem from that release.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of Covid Contact Tracers (working with little if any co-operation from the initial infected party) the community were finally advised of three venues of concern. These have since been deep cleansed.
The consequences of a Primary Case failing to comply with self isolation has a butterfly effect through the community, both in transfer of Covid and also in the fear and anxiety it creates across a community. Of concern is that we now we have a Covid detection in the Bermagui sewer. Is it related to the Batemans Bay case? Only time will tell.
While it is understood that a prisoner can not be detained for any time other than that set by the court it now appears, by this rule, that there is potential of further Covid outbreaks across the NSW regional community, and especially within our Koorie communities, with prisoners being released from an institution that has Covid cases.
NSW Health has confirmed that 164 Parklea inmates and 11 staff have tested positive to the virus by 8pm Friday 11th 2021. When the ABC contacted Corrective Services New South Wales, the inquiry was forwarded to MTC-Broadspectrum, which privately runs Parklea Correctional Centre.
A spokesperson said prisons were not able to force inmates to get a COVID-19 test prior to their release, but those who left Parklea were required to self-isolate for two weeks. "All inmates who leave Parklea Correctional Centre are required to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their COVID status," the statement reads.
"Their details are provided to NSW Health, who are responsible for ensuring they are self-isolating.
"Prisons are not able to force inmates to submit to COVID testing or rapid antigen screening prior to their release."
That's not good enough, according to Mr Smith, because it was putting the vulnerable Indigenous population at risk. The Bay Post reports today a Parklea Correctional Centre spokesperson said appropriate health and safety measures were taken after "a number of cases of coronavirus" at the prison.
"The spokesperson would not confirm if the first Batemans Bay case was linked to the Parklea outbreak. Inmates must be released as mandated by the court." "All inmates who leave Parklea Correctional Centre are required to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their COVID status," the spokesperson said. The Guardian reported on September 4th, 2021
"Vaccines earmarked for New South Wales prisoners were redirected to HSC students in Sydney despite inmates, who were meant to be prioritised under the rollout, making persistent requests to be vaccinated.
Guardian Australia can reveal the state’s prisoner vaccination program stalled, as doses were redirected in late July, as part of the government’s plan to vaccinate year 12 students."
The question must be asked “Are there other regional communities like Eurobodalla and Bega across NSW also facing a potential exposures as their community members return from prison?”
The Beagle has written to Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, asking: "What can you do to ensure your wider communities are not infected by prisoners returning to their homes? What checks and balances are made before they are released and what are the consequences outside of standard fines if they breach their self isolation rules. $500 means nothing to a released prisoner who is walking free for the first time in months, if not years." While the privacy of the Primary Case and the others now infected must be respected it is essential that the community, our community, be informed that the Government is well aware of the source of the Primary Case. Should that source be Parklea Correctional Facility, then the Government, our elected leaders, need to ensure that protocols are put in place to guarantee that an released prisoner will comply with Health directions for their own well being, and for the well being of their family, friends and wider community.
Posted Sat 11 Sep 2021 Walbunja elder Bunja Smith said he believed an inmate released from a Sydney prison was one of those positive cases and that testing within the prison system was not up to scratch.
"The testing regime when they come out is not adequate," he said.
"They need to know if that person is positive, negative or is safe to come back into the community prior to release."