AN initiative will aim to help prepare inmates at the new Unanderra jail for life after prison.
On Monday, the first round of inmates were released from the confines of the jail to undertake work in the community.
Parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward announced on Monday that inmates from the 60-bed Illawarra Reintegration Centre will begin supervised work programs in the community, including at Killalea State Park and with the RSPCA.
Mr Ward said it was the first time they’ve gone through this process with inmates at this reintegration centre.
“There’s no violent offenders going through this program.
“It is a minimum-security facility and obviously the inmates who are chosen for this path are specifically selected as people who are ready and capable of participating in this work, and that way we can prepare them for their eventual release.”
The facility, formerly the home of the Wollongong Community Offender Support Program centre, is the first of its kind to be opened in NSW.
The Illawarra Reintegration Centre opened in June.
Mark Gallagher, senior overseer of community projects at the Illawarra Reintegration Centre said participants will work Monday to Friday, ideally six hours a day.
He said of the 60 inmates they had 30 pre-qualified to take part, although they didn’t yet have enough work available for all of them.
“Any community groups out there who want to take part, we will take inquiries.
“Community projects are proven to help reduce recidivism. Typically at most centres there is a community projects unit, but it’s not a focus. But here it’s the focus of the employment.”
Mr Ward said the government was on its way to achieving its target to reduce adult re-offending by five per cent by 2019, and the Unanderra centre was about providing educational opportunities for inmates.
“I’m very keen to see us to do everything we can to reduce recidivism,” he said.
“Once people finish their sentence, if people are given a second chance then they deserve the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to society.”