NSW Corrective Services assistant Commissioner Kevin Corcoran, left, with Grafton jail Governor Michelle Paynter and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis outside the old Grafton jail in August to announce it will close next year.
NSW Corrective Services assistant Commissioner Kevin Corcoran, left, with Grafton jail Governor Michelle Paynter and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis outside the old Grafton jail in August to announce it will close next year.

Tears shed as Grafton jail staff confront job losses

PRISON officers at Grafton jail say many have been in tears as they confront the likelihood of being forced either lose their jobs or leave the area.

On Wednesday NSW Corrective Services deputy Commissioner Kevin Corcoran met with jail staff to inform them the jail would close on August 5 next year.

According to sources in the jail there were no details of employment arrangements beyond August 5.

Jail staff said assumptions staff at the jail would be able to transition to the new privately-run jail under construction at Lavadia south of Grafton, have proved illusory.

A prison officer, speaking to The Daily Examiner anonymously, said at least 30 jail staff he knew of had applied unsuccessfully to the new jail operator, Serco, for employment.

"Serco are being extremely arrogant to say the least," the source said.

"Over 30 people from the existing jail have applied that I know of. The number is probably higher than this.

"I have also applied. Zero response."

The source said applicants were also unable to get basic details from Serco such as what the pay rate would be or what industrial awards it was based on.

The staff member said they have also sought help from the government, but that has not translated into meaningful action.

"Several of us have already visited Chris Gulaptis office last September and he said he would be talking to Serco on our behalf but we actually haven't seen any evidence of this yet," the source said.

"Most of the staff are terrified. They do not want to leave Grafton and disrupt their families. "Many of them have children at school. All of them have mortgages. Quite a lot of tears are being shed I can tell you."

The source said Serco would need trained, experienced staff to run a jail with 1700 inmates.

"We don't want the 'biggest jail in the country' suffering the same fate as the Serco-run jails in Queensland that were turned back to the government."

Serco and Mr Gulaptis have been asked to comment.