ALP fear Grafton jail closure could cost prison officer jobs
UPDATE: The NSW Opposition has expressed concerns the closure of Grafton jail could put jail staff out of work.
The ALP's Member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin, said residents in her electorate worked at the jail and local businesses would lose business when the jail closed on August 5.
She was also the Federal Member for Page in 2012 when the NSW Government downsized the Grafton jail and saw the impact of the job losses that caused on the local community.
Ms Saffin was concerned the NSW Government's contract with prison operator Serco did not provide consideration for prison officers who wanted to move from the public to the private system.
Her understanding was current NSW prison officers must submit an application to Serco like an other prospective employee.
"I am concerned that the NSW Government does not have an arrangement with Serco to ensure Corrective Services NSW are to be placed or given preference for employment at the new Clarence Correctional Centre," she said.
"Further to this, while all ongoing staff affected by the closure of Grafton jail will be given priority consideration for identified role as the same classification or below at other locations, for them it might be difficult or impossible to relocate for various reason including the cost such a move would entail.
"It would be of much greater benefit if they could take up position at the new facility."
Corrective Services NSW said it was working with staff to support them during the transition period of the jail closure.
"Staff are our most important resource and we are committed to supporting them and engaging with them to achieve the best possible outcomes," a CSNSW spokesperson said.
"There are a variety of redeployment opportunities available with other expansions and CSNSW roles associated with Clarence Correctional Centre.
"We are actively working with staff to identify their preferred placement options and we hope that with the lead in time to the closure we can keep job losses to an absolute minimum."
Staff at Grafton jail would be consulted in coming weeks to discuss this transition, the spokesperson said.
The future of the jail building was still up in the air.
"The future of the heritage-listed prison buildings is not yet known and the government will consult with the local council, local community, and State Member of Parliament as we determine their future use," the spokesperson said.
EARLIER: THE last prisoner in Grafton jail will be gone by August 5, 2020, prison officers at the centre have been told.
NSW Corrective Services deputy Commissioner Kevin Corcoran was in Grafton yesterday to inform jail staff of the closure date.
An unnamed source inside the jail said the deputy commissioner only announced the closing date of the jail.
"There was no plan or timetable for the shutdown or when officers would be moved to other jails," the source said.
"There was no assurances about where anyone would be going. We were just told when the last prisoner would be leaving."
Staff at the jail also quizzed Mr Corcoran about the job prospects for Grafton jail prison officers at the Clarence Correctional Centre.
"We asked the deputy commissioner why the new jail was reluctant to employ prison officers from the old jail," the source said.
"I know just recently of seven colleagues from here who applied for jobs at the new jail and none of them were successful.
"From what I know, no-one from the old jail has succeeded in getting a job at the new jail."
The source said deputy Commissioner Corcoran had promised to bring this issue up with the private company running the jail, Serco.
"You would think that building a greenfield jail, they would need some experience in what it's like, especially with 1700 prisoners coming," the source said.
The closure will come a month short of the 127th anniversary of the jail's opening in Grafton.
The Daily Examiner has Serco for comment.