Clarence Valley Community Unions welcome the reopening of the Grafton Correctional Centre to its original capacity hailing it as a community win over the government’s short sighted approach to gaol closures across the state. 

In 2012 Clarence Valley Community Unions campaigned alongside community organisations, local businesses, and unions representing Grafton gaol workers in a massive local campaign against the closure.

Clarence Valley Community Unions spokesperson John Hickson said the current overcrowding crisis in the state’s gaols could have been avoided if the government listened to community concerns.

“The decision to close Grafton Correctional Centre was taken without consultation with either staff or the community resulting in over 100 positions lost. This had a devastating impact as many families were uprooted from their community and the local economy is still struggling to recover from the millions lost in wages,” Mr Hickson said. 

“Today’s decision to re-open Grafton Correctional Centre is a step in the right direction. Clarence Valley Community Unions are encouraged to hear that previously displaced gaol workers will be offered redeployment back to Grafton. 

“This whole mess however could have been avoided had the government treated our community with respect and engaged in consultation in the first instance. The facility should never have been closed. It was fully operational in public hands & should remain in public hands.”

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon said while the influx of new and previous workers will be a much needed boost to the local economy at a time of high unemployment there remained serious concerns that the new facility, when built, would be privately operated.

“We want any newly built facility to be publicly owned and run.  It is not desirable or appropriate for parts of the justice system to be outsourced to private companies. We will continue to lobby for the existing Grafton gaol to be publicly owned and operated,” Mr Lennon said. 

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