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New prison’s social impacts under review

Geoff Helisma|

A report was tabled at yesterday’s October 23 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, outlining progress on its May 2019 decision to “ensure local services are adequate for the arrival of family members associated with the 1,700 prisoners” who will occupy the new Clarence Correctional Centre, due to open in June 2020.

Councillors were split on supporting Cr Debrah Novak’s notice of motion (NOM) – for: councillors Novak, Ellem, Clancy and Simmons; against: councillors Williamson, Kingsley and Baker –, which called for CVC to “host a roundtable discussion with NSW Corrective Services, Northern Pathways and local service providers” and to “establish a working group to ensure the needs of this marginalised community are being met”.

Cr Novak wanted to know if there were “enough affordable houses and services to support the arrival of [the prisoners’] families”.

However, CVC was unable to take “the lead on managing the interface with the multiple bodies that are dealing with the social impacts of the new complex”, minutes from the August Northern Pathways Community Consultative Committee meeting state.

“CVC recognised this initiative needed to be led by the state government, because of the multiple state and federal agencies and NGOs [non government organisations] involved.”

The report to yesterday’s CVC meeting advised that “this matter is managed by the NSW Government [and that CVC] staff liaised with NSW Premier & Cabinet regarding NSW agency discussions”.

NSW Premier & Cabinet is taking the lead role.

Meanwhile, CVC staff and executive met with Serco “to discuss the issues and community concerns around managing the external social impact”.

“Serco will be releasing social performance indicators to the community periodically throughout the contract,” the report to council stated.

“Investigation by local community services into the impact of the new correctional facility is being undertaken by Social Futures, in partnership with the Aboriginal Medical Service, and CVC’s executive team and community services coordinator….

“This investigation is being led by Deloitte consultants and has a full cross-section of community stakeholders engaged.”

A report on the outcomes will be provided to CVC at an undisclosed point in the future.

“Implications and suggested actions can be considered at this point,” staff advised councillors.

“Council staff are continuously developing partnerships and networks to ensure that the needs of the community are realised and is looking for opportunities to grow social engagement that enhances the quality of life for Clarence Valley residents.”

State agencies participating in the process include Family & Community Services, Infrastructure NSW, Justice, Justice Health, Aboriginal Affairs, Education, Health, Coffs/Clarence Police District and Roads & Maritime.

NSW Premier & Cabinet has advised that “state directors and managers [are] currently engaging with, and will continue to engage with, senior agency representatives who in turn manage the flow of this information to those at service level”.