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​Craig Porch

Agricultural Overseer, St Heliers Correctional Centre
Three years with Corrective Services NSW

Three-years-ago Craig Porch left a three-decade career in the horse racing industry to work as an Agricultural Overseer at St Heliers Correctional Centre in the Hunter.

After running horse studs around the world in Japan, Ireland, China and North America, Craig’s interest started to lean towards farming and agriculture, and he was soon overseeing 20 inmates at the prison in Muswellbrook.

“I worked with a lot of young people at the horse studs, who went on to achieve in their own right. That’s what appealed to me with the inmates,” Mr Porch says.

Mr Porch is among the more than 9,000 Corrective Services NSW staff being celebrated for their commitment to community safety on National Corrections Day, Friday 18 January. CSNSW staff includes custodial officers, inmate services and programs staff, psychologists and parole officers.

A typical day for Mr Porch involves working in the prison’s market garden where inmates keep crops weed-free, watered and fertilised, or harvest vegetables by hand.

“Often when the inmates first start working they have never achieved anything before in their lives. When the veggies start to grow and they see what they’re capable of, they take a lot of pride in their work,” Mr Porch says.

“We’re growing vegetables for other prisons and we strive to produce the best we can. It is better for the taxpayer and gives inmates meaningful employment, which will hopefully shape their future for the better.”

With the 500 hectare farm and about 250 head of cattle at St Heliers, offenders have the opportunity to gain their Certificate 3 in Agriculture, as well as chainsaw tickets, and forklift and tractor driving licences.

“Farming is my passion now and to be able to combine that with the rewarding role of teaching inmates means I’m very happy driving into prison each day,” Mr Porch says. 

The 2019 National Corrections Day theme is Working Corrections, focussing on inmate industries and the work of Community Corrections officers, who supervise offenders on court-ordered community work.

Across the state, there are about 650 Corrective Services Industries’ staff, who oversee inmates undertaking work, training and other qualifications to help reintegrate them into the community and reduce reoffending.