MID NORTH COAST CORRECTIONAL CENTRE, KEMPSEY
The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO: My question is directed to the Minister for Justice. Can the Minister inform the House about the new mid North Coast correctional centre?
The Hon. JOHN HATZISTERGOS: The mid North Coast correctional centre is the latest in a series of new correctional facilities being built to meet the challenges of the State's growing prison population. Originally the facility was planned for 350 inmates, however following an expansion of the prison population as a consequence of, amongst other things, the Bail Amendment (Repeat Offenders) Act 2002 and the increasing inmate population in the northern part of the State, the plans were amended to accommodate a larger number, up to 500. The facility will hold 500 male and female minimum, medium and maximum security inmates. It incorporates modern management practices and state-of-the-art facilities to increase operational efficiency and staff safety.
The Premier opened the facility at Kempsey in July this year. This event marked the formal commencement of employment for 185 members of staff. When fully staffed, at least 40 per cent of the employees will have been recruited locally. Training at Kempsey has been conducted on site in specially constructed classrooms, and 51 staff have completed training segments and have filled positions. They are currently working alongside experienced staff. In addition, approximately 35 custodial staff have been transferred or promoted into the centre from other locations within the department. When fully operational each year the Kempsey centre will inject approximately $10 million into the local economy in salaries alone and some $3 million in operational costs such as goods and services needed to run the facility.
The centre is currently in the commissioning phase and is holding some 90 inmates. The inmates have been transferred to test the systems. All systems tested thus far have proved operational and the testing is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The increase of inmates to capacity is expected to continue gradually in line with both the testing process and the completion of staff training. The new facility will support a range of rehabilitative programs designed to identify and address offending behaviour, and organise workplace employment and training with the view to making offenders law-abiding citizens.
The centre's structured day commenced on 20 September and focused on inmate program participation, vocational training, and criminogenic needs and offending behaviour. Programs provided at the centre will include education and training conducted through a range of providers, including TAFE, and specialised support for Aboriginal offenders. Furthermore, the facility will accept inmates on methadone, with a seven-day service supplied after 24 September. In-centre work will include preparing meals, repairing school furniture, carrying out laundry and doing landscaping. Prerelease programs will focus on housing support, finance, family and community support, and health and employment to prepare inmates for the outside.
Focus on rehabilitation programs does not mean that the Government is complacent about security. This will be a secure facility with highly modern features. The centre's layout gives staff optimum control over the movement of inmates between their cells and other sections using a combination of security measures, including five-metre high concrete walls in the maximum and medium security sections; a five-metre high steel mesh fence around the exterior; razor wire barriers on the perimeters; closed-circuit television; and microwave, acoustic and electronic perimeter movement detection systems. In addition, the design maximises inmate safety to reduce deaths in custody. The centre will also be equipped with X-ray machines and metal detectors to eliminate the possibility of contraband entering the facility.
I am pleased to inform the House that all buildings are now complete. The Government is not only dedicated to providing the best facilities for inmates and staff at the mid North Coast but is utilising all changes made at Kempsey and forwarding them to the team developing the Wellington Correctional Centre.