Minister for Corrections David Elliott and Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin today officially opened the new Illawarra Reintegration Centre near Wollongong to help cater for the rising prisoner population.
About 60 minimum-security inmates will next week move into the refurbished facility, which was established in 1992 as a weekend detention centre and later functioned as a Community Offender Support Program Centre.
Mr Elliott said the facility was part of the NSW Government’s $3.8 billion prison infrastructure program and will focus on equipping inmates with the skills, experience and education they need to successfully reintegrate into the community.
“Across the state, we are planning, designing, refurbishing or building prisons at 12 other locations, including the new 1700-bed correctional centre in Grafton, to create additional capacity in the NSW prison system,” Mr Elliott said.
“This infrastructure program is supported by a $237 million investment in rehabilitation services, such as programs for inmates serving shorter sentences. At the Illawarra Reintegration Centre, inmates will be able to study for trade qualifications such as a forklift certificate or general construction induction card.”
“Inmates who participate in supervised work outside of the prison, such as cleaning parks and roads, are starting to repay their debt to the community.”
Member for Kiama and Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward welcomed the new facility. “I thank the Wollongong community for their support of the centre, which will create 24 jobs and contribute positively to the region’s economy,” he said.
Commissioner Severin said the 60-bed facility will house minimum security inmates who have been strictly vetted and deemed suitable for work release.
It follows the reopening of Berrima Correctional Centre in the Southern Highlands and Kirkconnell Correctional Centre near Bathurst. Construction work is underway on rapid build prisons in Wellington and Cessnock and expanded facilities in Nowra, Junee, Kempsey, Bathurst and Parklea.