Jail birds keep grounds on track
THEY are the silent workers in our community.
Everyone sees the results of their labour – a stunningly-maintained Warwick Showgrounds facility, mowed lawns at clubs and a fantastic horse precinct at Morgan Park – but never the people themselves.
Last year Women in Custody Warwick Work Camp participants laboured 10,842 hours in the Southern Downs region, doing a variety of jobs from operating whipper-snippers and mowers and on the end of paint brushes.
The camp, which is only active 15 days each month and generally number no more than 13 women about to be re-integrated into the community from the Helena Jones Correctional Centre in Brisbane, are fully self-sufficient.
The camp is facilitated by a community advisory committee and asks nothing from the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) except for maintenance and equipment.
Last year the Women in Custody Warwick Work Camp – which is believed to be the first of its kind in the world – was granted $15,000 in in-kind funding from SDRC.
However, this is funding which Andrew Grafton, who was elected the new chairman of this committee earlier this month, believes is not sufficient.
Especially given that currently the camp participants are mowing hectares of grass each month with a small-scale zero turn mower, and desperately need to upgrade to a commercial grade mower, which they believe will cost in the region of $15,000.
A request to council for funding for the mower last year was unsuccessful. The committee has sent another letter this year.
Mr Grafton said the committee – which is a cross-section of representatives from the community – was not an incorporated body and simply facilitated where the women who participated in the camp would work. The committee does not have a treasurer and is unable to deal with money, so must rely on the in-kind support from council.
Mr Grafton said the committee had considered approaching some of the larger organisations, which the camp helps with, to see if they could purchase and own the mower, for use by the women.
There is some hope for increased funding for the camp however, with Mayor Ron Bellingham yesterday telling the Daily News could put in a request for more council funding, to be considered in budget talks to begin next month.
“The short answer is yes, council would consider expansion for a justifiable case,” he said.