The Woodford Correctional Centre project commenced in 1994 on the site of the old Woodford secure facility. The first prisoners were accepted at the centre on 7 March 1997 and this year marks the 20th anniversary of this day.

In this issue, we took the opportunity to sit down with some of the officers from the centre, including those who have been at Woodford since its opening.

Intelligence Manager, Craig Steley was part of the commissioning group and started as a base grade officer in Unit N2. “A lot of things have changed in that time, including the prisoner population and their dynamic,” he says. “I’m really proud of our ability to adapt to changes, and as a centre, we are very good at managing risk through intelligence and the dedication of our colleagues,” says Craig.

The commitment and comradery is clear amongst officers at the centre, particularly with the presence of the Staff Welfare Association. “The Association has been established for at least 10 years now, and they rally around staff that are doing it tough,” says Violence Prevention Coordinator, Sharon Gardiner.

Committed to expanding and improving operations, Woodford has piloted many initiatives over the years. “This centre was the first to get 12 hour shifts, the first to have our own industrial agreement, and the first to train non-custodial staff in relieving control room positions,” says Human Resources Officer, Alan Tilly.

In 2001, Woodford opened a 400 cell expansion of secure accommodation to assist in accommodating the growing prisoner population. As the largest correctional centre in Queensland, the commitment to addressing challenges within the facility, including the rise in prisoner numbers, is shared by all officers.

“The people we work with every day support each other,” says Craig. “Our General Manager is very communicative and always lets staff know what’s happening both strategically and on a smaller scale within the centre. We are aware of ongoing trends in the growth in prisoner numbers and we are preparing for the next steps.”

Taking pride in the valuable work they undertake and looking after their colleagues are respected values at the centre.

“It’s just a good place to work and there are a lot of really long term staff. We have a great team and we are really good at supporting anybody that’s in need,” says Sharon.