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Glynda McNaught with her yacht in the background. Image: contributed

Sailing north to warmer waters

For Grafton correctional officer, Glynda McNaught, the closure of the Grafton Gaol last week was an emotional experience. The Independent asked Ms McNaught to share a bit about her life with us.

“I first started working at the Grafton Correctional Centre (the old Grafton Gaol) in 2010,” Ms McNaught said.

“Then when they downsized the gaol in 2012, I was away for three years or so, until they upsized it again.

“I came back in 2015 and have been back there for the last five years,” she said.


Glynda McNaught with co-worker Ron Ford at the end of last Friday’s Official Retirement Ceremony at the Grafton Correctional Facility. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Independent What did you like most about your job there?

“I guess just being in a place where you can help to make someone’s life a little bit better,” she said.

“There’s some pretty nasty people in there, but I treat everyone with respect and fairness as we are all human beings, until they arc up.

“If they arc up then, I’ll arc up back.

“It was a challenge, but I enjoyed working with the inmates, especially the really vulnerable ones like those suffering with mental health or the girls. I mainly worked with the males though, and only sometimes with the girls.

“Over the years, I’ve also worked in a lot of other gaols as a prison officer,” she said.


Independent – There was an official retirement ceremony held at the old Grafton Gaol/Grafton Correctional Centre on Friday last week, for the correctional officers and staff. What was that like for you?

“It was very emotional. The correctional officers all marched out of the main gaol gate in formation and stood in front of the main entry way, for the ceremony. I teared up when the flags were being lowered for the last time and a lone piper started to play Amazing Grace.

“At the end of the ceremony we were all holding our salute and then the piper played the last post and that was very emotional. I was in the back row and all I could see was a sea of officers in front of me, as we all saluted.

“When the music ended the governor called out “parade attention – and now for the last time, parade dismissed.” There were a lot of officers in tears,” she said.


Independent – So, at the moment you are living on your yacht on the Clarence River. Now that the Grafton Correctional Centre has closed, what are your plans in the immediate future?

“During the COVID-19 period, Maritime Services Queensland (MSQ) was manning the border (at sea) for boats attempting to enter Queensland from any other State, during the border closure.

“So, the Queensland border was not only closed by road, but it was also closed by sea.

“I had heard about several people being turned back from entering Queensland waters.

“The night before the Queensland border was re-opened, around three or four of my friends headed off out of the Clarence River heading for the Gold Coast seaway.

“So, I guess the answer to your question is, that my plans are to take a well earnt break and follow them as soon as possible,” she said.