The report from a Parliamentary inquiry into the downsizing of Correctional Centres including Grafton Gaol was released today. It is almost one year to the day that the whole of the Clarence Valley Community rallied to save their gaol and the 108 jobs announced to be axed.

The Clarence Valley Community Unions (CVCU) and the whole Clarence Valley campaigned for six long days and nights to stop the O’Farrell NSW Government from downsizing their gaol and ruining the town’s economy.

The report highlights that the decision by the O’Farrell Government to downsize Grafton Gaol was just plain wrong and was badly managed. The Clarence Valley Community was right along and the government should have listened to the community.

The findings in the report clearly state that the downsizing of the gaol and axing 108 positions was poorly handled and measures should now be put in place to prevent this ever happening in other regional areas.

The CVCU are very disappointed that there are no recommendations in place to restore the gaol to the previous level.

However, the CVCU can see the light at the end of the tunnel being a recommendation for a new correctional facility to be built in the Clarence Valley.

The report also highlights the need for the State Government to ensure communities in rural and regional NSW have decent public services which the CVCU will continue to campaign for.

Both the social and economic benefits are highlighted in the report and it is critical for these issues to be properly considered in any decision making.

It’s not just the narrow cost savings to the budget of a government department but the broader impact on the wider community that needs to be factored in.

The report highlights that community of Grafton deserves a greater share of services by recommending any future Goal in the area be built here.

As a first step we need the Government to seriously address the inadequacy of other essential services in the region immediately.

The CVCU calls on The Nationals members, Chris Gulaptis and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page to ensure this occurs as a matter of urgency.

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