(QldGovSpin) Permanent worc camps trial in north-west

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 03/08/2004 - 21:30

Three Work Outreach Camp (WORC) sites in north-west Queensland will be trialled as permanent open custody centres for six months by the Department of Corrective Services.

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Police & Corrective Services, Judy Spence
police@cabinet.qld.gov.au
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03/08/04

The three existing camp sites - Boulia, Julia Creek and Winton - are currently utilised by Open Classification, low security risk, prisoners on a rotational basis.

The Minister for Police and Corrective Services said the trial, to start on 1 January 2005, was aimed at enhancing the WORC Program.

"The WORC Program delivers significant benefits to regional and remote communities, and to prisoners," Ms Spence said.

Ms Spence said the trial was a key initiative of the two-day annual WORC Conference, which is being held this year in Clermont.

"I am seeking feedback and submissions this month from the local communities and community leaders on the trial," Ms Spence said.

"These submissions and the trial results will help me to determine whether or not all 11 WORC sites in western Queensland are made permanent open custody centres."

Ms Spence said the WORC Program originated in Charleville, after prisoners were sent to assist in the clean up after 1990 floods.

"Their contribution, quite rightly, earned the congratulations and thanks of all in the Charleville region," Ms Spence said.

Since then 11 camps for male prisoners have been established at Blackall, Boulia, Charleville, Clermont, Dirranbandi, Julia Creek, Mitchell, Springsure, St George, Winton and Yuleba.

A camp for female prisoners is also set up at Warwick.

The purpose of the camps is to provide additional labour for special projects or relief work in remote areas. Prisoners work under the supervision of a corrective services officer, who lives with them on-site.

The WORC teams spend, on average, two and half weeks in a month on site. They are then returned to an open custody facility in Brisbane, Rockhampton or Townsville.

"Making the western camp sites permanent, will remove long travelling times for staff and prisoners and make the WORC-force more readily and more regularly available for community projects," Ms Spence said.

The Minister said the financial benefits to regional and remote Queensland from WORC in the 2003-04 financial year was $1 million with prisoners completing around 60,000 hours of community service.

"The success of WORC is not simply measured in dollars - local communities have embraced the program and prisoners have also expressed their pride in the work they do," Ms Spence said.

"Many of the prisoners have learned new skills and they have benefited from what they describe as 'life changing' experiences.

"Some have even returned to make their homes in the communities where they were part of a WORC team."

Media contact: 3239 6172

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