The gatehouse and administration building at the new Hunter Correctional Centre in Cessnock.
The Government has announced a series of measures to improve the standards and value for money provided by the state’s prison system. This includes the introduction of processes known as benchmarking and market testing, supported by an extensive infrastructure renewal program, and reform of education and vocational training for inmates. We have also embarked on a major recruitment drive.
Corrective Services NSW performs well in many areas, but there is potential for improvement. For example, CSNSW needs to improve its rehabilitative efforts, and educational and vocational training services, to contribute to reduced reoffending and safer communities.
Report On Government Services (ROGS) 2016 indicates other areas for improvement. The need for improvement was also described in a report from the
Audit Office of NSW earlier this year.
More generally, innovation and the role of private operators are important considerations in many prison systems in Australia and around the world. Below are reports on these matters from Western Australia and Queensland.
Across the State, the NSW Government is investing in modern, secure, fit-for-purpose prisons.
The centrepiece of the program is a new Clarence Correctional Centre south of Grafton, expected to open in 2020. Clarence has been designed in partnership with the private sector to serve as the corrective services hub for northern NSW.
Already, we’ve delivered two new ‘rapid build’ maximum-security prisons, a new maximum-security centre for women, and three new minimum-security facilities. Upgrade work continues at our centres at Bathurst, Cessnock, Goulburn, Junee, Kempsey, Nowra, Parklea and Silverwater, as well as the John Morony complex in Berkshire Park.
This involves detailed performance targets being set and reported on regularly. Prison managers will be given a set budget within which to achieve these targets through improvements in operations. Benchmarking will be rolled out gradually over the next two to three years.
On 25 may 2017, Corrective Services NSW was selected as the preferred operator of John Morony Correctional Centre following a competitive tender process designed to lift standards, reduce reoffending and improve efficiency.
Minister for Corrections David Elliott said the NSW Government had selected the CSNSW tender as most competitive against three private consortiums to run the prison near Windsor, in Sydney's north west.
"This is a major vote of confidence in the public prison system and shows that we can deliver quality service at good value for money for taxpayers," Mr Elliott said.
"It is a major step in finalising the future operations of John Morony Correctional Centre and now we need to get on with working with the in-house bid team to ensure we achieve the right operating model."
The CSNSW in-house bid team now need to confirm a Heads of Agreement, reached with the Public Service Association (PSA) last year, endorsing the new operating model, which will have a focus on rehabilitation, security, health and good value for money.
Commissioner Peter Severin thanked staff for their patience during the tender period and said the in-house bid team looked forward to working with the PSA and staff to reach a final agreement that kept the prison in public hands.
"The CSNSW in-house bid team will now need the assistance of the PSA and staff to maximise our chances of getting this bid over the finishing line," Mr Severin said.
"CSNSW will support management and staff to make a successful transition to the new operating model.''
"I wish to commend our staff and management at John Morony Correctional Centre for their patience and continued good work during the tender process."
The CSNSW in-house bid team will continue negotiating with the tender committee and a final outcome is expected in the coming months.
The formal request for tender in August last year resulted in three private bidders tendering and competing against the in-house bid team.
The Government has decided to outsource most of CSNSW’ education and vocational training services for inmates. The Intensive Learning Centres will be retained and a range of new positions will be created to determine inmate needs. CSNSW will work with and monitor specialist organisations who will deliver education and vocational training in the future. The Government is expecting that these reforms will double the number of inmates completing literacy and numeracy courses, and increase vocational training by at least 20 per cent. There will also be changes to some of the courses provided to enhance employment opportunities for inmates released from custody.
BSI Learning has won the contract to deliver the majority of the education and training in prisons. The registered training organisation was appointed following a rigorous tender process and has more than 16 years of experience in working with offenders in Queensland Corrective Services.
Under the new model, courses will be delivered more consistently across the year.
BSI Learning have been delivering programs in the correctional services sector since 2000, including inmate education and training since 2008.