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​Paul Kilburn

Senior Trade Overseer

17 years with Corrective Services NSW

A program where inmates cared for chickens and turkeys was one of the first career highlights for Paul Kilburn as it proved that work opportunities were important to rehabilitate inmates.

The Senior Trade Overseer at Oberon Correctional Centre, in the state's Central West, remembers the positive impact that work had on one troubled offender who had been in the system for some time.

"He had been in prison for serious offences but working with the chickens and turkeys – collecting their eggs and raising them – was a great opportunity for him to improve his attitude and calm him down," Mr Kilburn says.

"We would enter those birds into shows on behalf of the inmates and when they won medals and ribbons, it showed them you can get another chance at life."

For the past 17 years, Mr Kilburn has been supervising inmates in various work-related activities to help them gain skills, experience and qualifications that assist with their ability to reintegrate back into the community.

"I think a lot of members of the public don't realise how much goes on within the prison system, which actually enhances the lives of the inmates," Mr Kilburn says.

"Even myself, I used to drive by the old Parramatta Gaol but didn't realise my agriculture skills would be of great use within the correctional system one day.

"People think that we just lock them up but there are a range of programs and work opportunities."

Inmates at Oberon Correctional Centre participate in work such as garden maintenance, cattle farming, vegetable growing, constructing timber-products, as well as refurbishing metal and wood-work benches.

Mr Kilburn says it's very important that inmates are given an opportunity to learn valuable skills that can help them once they're released into the community.

"Some inmates have never worked before their time in prison. They don't know how to pick up a hammer," he says.

"But once they leave prison, they've already received training and possibly a TAFE Certificate or construction ticket in areas such as tree felling.

"We equip them to get back out there in the hope of slowly reintegrating them into society whether it's through forklift training or learning logistics.''

The 49-year-old says Oberon Correctional Centre is an important employer for the local community.

"Outside of the work, I enjoy family time, athletics and assisting the local fire brigade."