Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:22): I rise to speak to the amended motion by the member for Playford that this house:
(a) notes that 20 January 2023 is National Corrections Day, recognising the tireless work and efforts of our dedicated corrections staff to reduce reoffending and to make the community safer; and
(b) expresses its gratitude to all corrections staff in all roles across the state, including correctional officers, community corrections officers, Aboriginal liaison officers, social workers, psychologists, correctional educators and administration and project staff for their professionalism, skill and compassion.
We have prisons located, obviously, right across the state. We have the Adelaide Remand Centre, the Adelaide Women's Prison, the Cadell Training Centre, the Mobilong Prison (which is in Murray Bridge), the Mount Gambier Prison, the Port Augusta Prison, the Yatala Labour Prison and the Adelaide Pre-release Centre.
An honourable member: Port Lincoln Prison.
Mr PEDERICK: And Port Lincoln Prison. I thought there was a prison in Port Lincoln; there you go, one missing off the list. I do want to salute the staff, with all the roles that they contribute to working in the corrections facilities right across the state. It is a difficult job. It is a job where they are trying to get on top of prison numbers, to contribute to the occasion of reoffending, and to bring those numbers down so that prisoners can lead a better life when they get out of prison after they serve their time.
I know there are various projects to keep prisoners busy. In regard to actual work projects in Mobilong Prison, there is the HEGS Pegs project, those fancy little orange pegs where you can peg your clothes without putting a mark on them if that is what you so desire. I do not get that fussy; I just use the peg way but that is just me. They also put pallets together in there, and they have a project making headstones for unmarked graves for veterans, a very serious program that prisoners at Mobilong contribute to, and I salute them for that.
There is a bloke who comes from Coonalpyn, Michael Dent, who I would have played footy with, who has worked in Corrections. He has been operating at Mobilong and I believe he is in charge at Mobilong now. He went to Cadell for a while, and he does a great job in keeping that facility on the straight and narrow.
When Mobilong was built in 1987, it had room for 150 single-celled prisoners. Those numbers have built up over time where cells were doubled and in some cases tripled. I remember the former member for Port Adelaide, Kevin Foley’s famous quote, ‘Rack ’em, pack ’em, stack ’em’. Other facilities have been built, and that has been ongoing over time, to where Mobilong now holds 472 prisoners, and it is almost like small unit accommodation where prisoners have their own room.
When some of those early rooms were built, I think there were five rooms, then two of them were doubled up to fit seven into each unit, but newer units have been built since then. I think, in regard to the open campus style of prison, and Mobilong was a trendsetter in those days in getting that going, it is probably close to maximum capacity, although I suppose as long as there is ground, there is room to put in more buildings.
What we need to be doing, and what prison workers and all the other workers in supply support services need to do—whether it is educational services, psychology services and all the other wraparound services—is assist prisoners so that they do not reoffend and have the option of getting out to have a better life.
One of those programs is the GAP program. It is a great program involving 16 greyhounds that have finished their lives as racing greyhounds. I have seen it a couple of times on professional visits to the prison. The program puts prisoners together with their own greyhound that they look after for quite a while. It is quite therapeutic and gives prisoners a real sense of achievement, and I have met prisoners there who have been a part of that process.
I really want to acknowledge Chris Tilley, who I ran into last night at a Veterans Advisory Council function. He works in Mobilong and does a great service in relation to Corrections. In Correctional Services, he was a finalist in the Veteran Employee of the Year 2021, and I will just tell you his story.
Following eight years in the Australian Defence Force as an infantryman, Chris transitioned into a role as corrections officer at Mobilong Prison. Whilst Chris’s transition into a civilian job was seamless, he struggled to find the same degree of meaning and purpose in his role as he previously held in the ADF.
Chris became aware that a number of the prisoners he was guarding were veterans so he independently undertook research to understand the number of veterans in the South Australian prison population. From this research, Chris recognised the need for coordinated support for veteran prisoners and led the establishment of a veteran support group at Mobilong Prison.
This group commenced as a peer support group but evolved to provide a link to services for specific needs, such as emergency housing, careers, legal support, family support, DVA claims and advocacy. The primary focus of the group is to give veteran prisoners the best opportunity to maintain the values associated with being a veteran, thereby assisting with the reintegration of prisoners who are veteran into the broader community—a benefit to all.
Chris is continuing to work with executives from the South Australian Department for Correctional Services to influence the rollout of a statewide veteran support program for veteran prisoners and veterans on community-based corrections orders. He is also committed to assisting fellow veterans to be positive members of the community, to be proud of their service and to instil values of pride and honour through identification as a veteran. I quote: 'Thanks for believing in me that I'm more than a criminal,' said veteran T on his release from prison. 'I needed something positive to do with my time…I don't know how I would have got through this without your support,' veteran C said, after successfully securing a job whilst on home detention.
Chris is a member of the South Australian Veterans Advisory Council, as I indicated. I was talking to him last night at the Younger Veterans—Contemporary Needs Forum. I truly salute his work with veterans. Sadly, some veterans have found themselves in correctional facilities for various reasons and this is a great way to assist those who have served our country, who have been prepared to put their lives on the line.
Sadly, as we know—and it does not matter if you are an infantryman or service man or woman—sometimes things go wrong. In general, for people in society, sometimes things go wrong, too. In regard to people's service within the Australian Defence Force, I absolutely salute their service and I salute the service that Chris Tilley is doing to make sure that he can do all he can to get these veterans' lives back on track.
In the main, I salute all of the workers who work in our correctional facilities. It is a tough job; it is tough gig, and we must all concentrate on doing what we can to lower the levels of reoffending and essentially lower the levels of offending so that society as a whole can benefit in the longer term.
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