What Wollongong’s maximum-security jail might look like

The NSW government has used the hundreds of jobs being created by a new prison in the state’s northeast to sell the economic benefits of a proposed maximum-security jail at West Dapto.

Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) has begun investigating the suitability of a 237-hectare parcel of land at Kembla Grange for a correctional facility and is in the early stages of community consultation over its plan.

The site being looked at for the jail sits within the West Dapto Urban Release Area – where 19,000 new homes will be built – and has angered current and future residents. 

However, CSNSW has touted the hundreds of new and ongoing jobs created by correctional facilities and has used the under-construction Grafton Correctional Centre as an example.

The 1700-bed Grafton jail – being built on a 195-hectare site at Lavadia, about 12km southeast of the regional city – is expected to create 600 operational roles and about 1100 construction jobs.

“There are also other positive economic benefits such as the flow-on effects these extra wages can have on the community in supporting local businesses, community organisations and families,” a CSNSW spokeswoman said.

In announcing the West Dapto jail investigation early last week, parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward cited the Grafton prison would inject about $560 million into its economy over the next 20 years.

“I want to see employment opportunities for people here in this region. I go after every job, every opportunity to make the Illawarra a great place to be,” Mr Ward said. 

No specific job numbers or jail size details for the West Dapto proposal have been outlined – only that it would be several hundred beds and create several hundred jobs. 

The Mercury asked CSNSW whether the Illawarra jail, if built, would be of similar size to the Grafton facility.

In response, a spokeswoman said it was “far too early to comment on the size of any proposed facility”.

“Early investigations will consider the environmental impacts of the site and the area, which would determine any design,” she said. 

An artist's impression of what a cell in the under-construction Grafton Correctional Centre will look like when the project is finished. Pictures: NSW Infrastructure

An artist's impression of what a cell in the under-construction Grafton Correctional Centre will look like when the project is finished. Pictures: NSW Infrastructure

Concept images show the expansive nature of the Grafton Correctional Centre and its facilities, which include sporting fields.

Questions to CSNSW about whether the proposed prison would have similar facilities to those being built at Grafton jail, and if it would deliver the same amount of jobs, went unanswered.

The privately-run Grafton jail will have maximum-security beds for 1000 males and 300 females, as well as housing 400 minimum-security male inmates. It will be the biggest jail in Australia.

Grafton is known as a jail town, with a heritage-listed prison in the city centre downsized to an “intake and transient centre” in 2012.

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