• NSW prisons being built at three times the rate of schools
  • Sacking gaol teachers bad public policy and will cause recidivism
  • Education cuts part of continued attack on working people 

Maria Dowsing has worked as a correctional education officer for 35 years. When she was told her job had been outsourced, it was by email.

Maria was one of hundreds of protesters who rallied outside Parliament House this week to protect education in NSW gaols and show support for prison educators sacked by Mike Baird for being over-qualified.

“In our centre alone we have over 400 years of experience between us. How can that be replaced,” Maria told Snapshot.

“It’s not just about reading and writing. We are not just teachers; we play the role of mothers, nurses, welfare workers. We’ve spent years building trust and rapport.”

Maria works at Silverwater where the new system is already being trailed and is failing. One of the private registered training organisations refused to enter the facility because of safety concerns.

“It’s not easy working in a prison but we come to work every day because we want to make a difference. We are well trained and we are trusted by the inmates.

“We’re calling on Mike Baird to reverse the decision. Keep the staff with integrity, experience and the passion to do the role.”

Opposition and cross bench minsters, union leaders and community activists all joined in condemnation calling for the cost-cutting plan to be abandoned.

“The decision will decimate education standards among inmates and ultimately, fail the community,” Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said. 

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