Prison Industries at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre (LGCC) is focused on affording prisoners with the opportunity to learn important work skills, but also to give back to the community through partnership with not-for-profit organisations.

One of the major projects has involved the production of signage for the Returned Services League (RSL). “This district was a huge repatriation area for soldiers involved in the Pacific theatre of the Second World War,” explains Industries Manager, Larry Guilfoyle.

“There are hundreds of signs from Mareeba to Mt Surprise which designate where each regiment were based in the war. A lot of family members and returned service men are interested in visiting to see these significant locations. We remade all of the signs by carving the information into timber using one of our machines and then painting them.”

Prisoners have also assisted Cairns Historical Society with their work. The society is focused on making the history of Far North Queensland accessible to current and future generations. “The Historical Society is establishing a local museum and are using a number of old tables as displays. These tables have come from past local businesses and many of them were very dilapidated,” says Larry.

A project close to Larry’s heart has been the refurbishment of pews for St Joseph’s Church, Atherton. “My Grandfather actually made the pews, baptismal font and pulpit for the church in the 1950s. No one wanted to do the work as it was too labour intensive so they approached us,” he says.

“We were able to do the whole church, five pews at a time, with our carpenters’ workshop disassembling, stripping back, reassembling and lacquering the timber sections, before the tailors’ workshop reupholstered the kneelers.”

Michelle McLellan from St Joseph’s said the church is very happy with the product. “The workmanship is beautiful and the church community is so appreciative that we could get it done,” she says.

“Our goal is to provide a quality service for clients while promoting healthy lifestyles, skills and employability for prisoners, particularly those from remote communities. Lotus Glen Industries’ greatest asset is its people and we take pride in our achievements,” says Larry.

“We are the largest single employer on the Atherton Tableland, and our staff are very much a part of the area, which is made up of a number of smaller communities. Our senior management are very strong on being supportive of all local communities and are always happy to assist with worthwhile community projects where possible.”

One of the Cairns Historical Society’s damaged tables before refurbishment.

A refurbished table for the Cairns Historical Society’s displays.

Refurbished pews from St Joseph’s Church, Atherton.

Signage constructed for the RSL around the region.