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AIS Chief Operating Officer, Paul Walsh, visited Long Bay Correctional Centre in NSW recently to see firsthand how it is providing inmates with work experience and training to support their pathway to employment and successful re-integration into the community.
Supporting ex-offenders to gain or improve marketable skills and secure employment soon after release is a vital component in a successful transition back into the community. Getting a job can also minimise the chances of re-offending.
Corrective Services Industries (CSI) is the commercial arm of Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW). It operates over 100 commercial business units at metropolitan and regional correctional centres across NSW. Profits generated by CSI go back into prison operations, contributing to the self-sustainability of NSW Corrections.
CSI business units are authentic workplaces, which provide inmates with real work experience and vocational training. CSI Overseers (trade qualified supervisors) provide competency based training, coaching and mentoring for all plant and equipment operations.
The Metropolitan Special Programs Centre at Long Bay houses more than 1,000 maximum and minimum-security inmates, with 60 per cent gainfully employed in warehousing, bakery, laundry, textiles, technology, and food services. Overall, Long Bay Correctional Centre industries will generate $11.3 million this financial year.
Long Bay’s Corrective Services Industries Operations Manager Steve McMahon and his team of 30 industry staff supervise the large labour force.
“CSI employs around two thirds of the centre’s population in its commercial business units or service industries, with inmates gaining qualifications and practical experience to make them more competitive in the job market,” Mr McMahon said.
“The units produce excellent results. They generate profit, help the centre to be more self-sufficient, assist inmates to improve their future job prospects and support NSW by delivering skilled tradespeople to the community.”
Inmates can complete traineeships including Certificate III in Warehousing, Laundry Operations, Food Processing and Business Administration or apprenticeships in Printing Graphic Arts, and Retail Baking.
Long Bay Governor Pat Aboud said around five inmates per month complete apprenticeships, traineeships or other work-related formal training.
“Inmates can also complete a number of short courses related to their industry employment including Forklift Driver Training, Test and Tag, First Aid, as well as abridged versions of apprenticeships or traineeships if they are serving short sentences,” Mr Aboud said.
“CSI provide products and services internally and to government and private industry. Inmates are expected to deliver a high calibre of work to quality-accredited standards, so they are well-equipped to hit the ground running in post-release employment. Long Bay’s industries aim to reduce reoffending and ensure inmates leave custody more likely to gain and retain employment than ever before.”
CSI services helps feed inmates across the state:
Courtesy of CSNSW – inmates process 24 tonnes of groceries per week
CSI’s Logistics fleet is operated by prisoners as well as other staff. This is possible thanks to GPS tracking, which provides high levels of security as well as greater logistical efficiencies. CSI’s vehicles travel around 1.25 million kilometres per year throughout NSW and interstate, carrying the equivalent of 80,000 pallets in freight. The fleet is supplemented by certified private sector courier and general freight carriers.
The CSI Logistics head office warehouse is located at South Windsor on Sydney’s outskirts. It’s cross-docking warehouse at Cessnock Correctional Centre coordinates short term and long-term warehousing plus storage and freight movements.
Under the direction of accredited supervisors, inmate workers undertake training in many aspects of logistics operations. All are trained in the receipting of goods, order picking, sorting, packaging, computer operation, dispatching, proper loading and unloading of vehicles and conducting cyclic stock takes. These are all good skills for employment in the logistics sector upon release. Some inmates also deliver training in forklift licencing and heavy vehicle driving.
CSI has been a highly valued, strategic partner to several technology companies for the past couple of decades. During this period CSI has proven its ability to provide either a partial or complete technology solution in a broad range of technology subsectors including:
Courtesy of CSNSW – an inmate working on repairs at the Technology Warehouse
Inmates also undertake Work Readiness programs. These develop cognitive skills to improve their employability. Progress is measured as part of case management. Working with inmates in this way encourages self-responsibility and law-abiding community living.
During planning for an inmate’s release from prison, employment opportunities are sought from CSI’s links to the business community. The benefit to a prospective employer is that an ex-offender is inducted in OH&S, trained in work readiness skills, with assessed production line competencies and with work experience in quality accredited business units.
By linking with correctional centres that already have business units involved in their industry, employers can contribute to the design and delivery of programs for improving the education and vocational training of offenders. In addition, they have access to a pool of job ready workers.
CSNSW is also providing accredited training provided to correctional officers at the Brush Farm-Corrective Services Academy at Eastwood, near the centre of Sydney. The Academy offers a range of VET programs that support career progression, from Certificate III/IV in Correctional Practice to the Diploma of Correctional Administration and Adv Diploma of Correctional Management. Professional development opportunities, as well as developing career paths for young recruits, is seen by CSNSW as beneficial to the long-term growth of the industry.