Valuable experience: Inmates at Macquarie Correctional Centre go to work

Inmates at Wellington’s Macquarie Correctional Centre have gone to work, building quality steel beds for the state while gaining vital skills and employment.

Production is booming at the facility with the 180 inmates already building 120 beds since work began in January.

The beds will be used at other prisons around NSW including Cessnock, Mid North Coast, Bathurst and the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre.

Macquarie’s manager of industries Greg Rapley said inmates – in conjunction with CSNSW officers - have designed and manufactured the beds to required specifications.

“Our heavy engineering workshop was tasked with designing beds that were strong enough to comply with security standards and light enough to be handled and easily manoeuvred into pre-made cells,” Mr Rapley said.

“By involving inmates in the design process we are not only giving them ownership of their work, we’re providing them with valuable industry experience ahead of their release.

“This on-the-job training enables inmates to learn skills like design, welding, machine operation and work health and safety, meaning they’re better placed to find employment and make a positive contribution to the community once they leave custody.”

As well as beds, the centre’s two workshops create various building components for local companies, and equipment for the centre including chin-up bars, safe stands, work benches, meal trolleys and gas bottle cages.

Seventeen inmates are in the process of enrolling in Certificate II Engineering traineeships, with more expected to follow.

Governor Jason Hodges said the new Rapid-Build Prison model has a heavy focus on inmate engagement, education and employment which boosts the industries’ productivity.

“The inmates’ days have been carefully structured to focus on intense participation in work and education in two rotating shifts, which maximises production hours and inmate employment,” Mr Hodges said.

“This revolutionary approach allows all of the industries at Macquarie more production hours – and more output – while providing employment for every inmate at the centre.”

The heavy engineering workshop is one of several industries at Macquarie including furniture, light engineering, laundry, food services, cleaning, hospitality and ground/facilities maintenance. 

The single and bunk bed with ladders manufactured at Macquarie will be used in the Cessnock, Mid North Coast, Bathurst and MRRC correctional centre expansions.