By Alex Burton, Engagement Officer.

On July 8, the Honourable Jo-Ann Miller MP, Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services announced that the Borallon Training and Correctional Centre will be recommissioned in early 2016. I spoke to Borallon Project Director, Michael Airton about the proposed facility, which has the capacity to accommodate 492 male prisoners.

“It will differ from the old Borallon in that it will be operated by QCS and it has a very strong focus on employment, education and training outcomes,” said Michael. The facility will accommodate prisoners who have been identified as being likely to gain the maximum benefit from a dedicated training prison.

In her announcement, the Minister highlighted the facility’s proposal to assist in the reduction of reoffending. “Fewer than 15 per cent of offenders who go to prison before the age of 21 have finished year 12 – and that’s a big part of the problem,” she said. “Borallon will focus on curbing harmful behaviours while providing meaningful opportunities for young prisoners to improve themselves and increase their chances of getting a job – which is actually one of the best ways to improve community safety.”

Activities and programs available to prisoners will be tailored to address shortages in the current Queensland labour market and focus on preparing prisoners with skills and opportunities for reintegration and employment upon release. Michael said the government is determined to use the opportunity with Borallon to maximise the positive outcomes that can be achieved through the provision of appropriate employment, education, training and reintegration services. “Staff in corrections are familiar with what works in relation to rehabilitation and desistance and this is an excellent opportunity for us to put that knowledge into practice more effectively.”

The new facility will be high security to maximise its capacity to accommodate all classifications of prisoners. It will also ease prisoner overcrowding across secure centres within the Southern Queensland region.

Michael highlighted the vast scope of the project, with the centre to be commissioned in early 2016. “The re-commissioning process involves a wide range of activities related to the planning and design of the operating model, the recruitment and training of staff, the selection process for external service providers, engagement activities with the local community, testing of the infrastructure and security systems and the selection and transfer of prisoners.”

Capital works are well progressed to bring the existing structures up to standard and maximise the working life of the centre, while processes for staff recruitment and transfers are being developed.

Giving prisoners a chance to turn their lives around by improving their chances of finding employment is one of the best ways to make the community safer and turn offenders into productive citizens.