Mayor Ron Bellingham and Graham Nossa at the launch of the conference Thursday night.
Mayor Ron Bellingham and Graham Nossa at the launch of the conference Thursday night. Shannon Newley

Program allows offenders to help

MAINTAINING the showgrounds, cleaning churches, looking after Morgan Park and mowing the grass of Pringle Cottage – they are all jobs which need doing but people rarely consider how they get done.

For the past 20 years, those jobs and more have been completed by people serving time in custody – using their sentences to give back to the community.

This week Warwick hosted the 20th Queensland Corrective Services Work Program Conference, an annual event which discussed the best way to improve the program and recognise those who contributed to it.

Cr Denise Ingram said low-risk offenders from the Helena Jones Centre came to Warwick as a part of a work camp program and carried out a range of jobs for local groups on a regular basis.

“They do things like the rodeo and polocrosse.

"It's an amazing support to community groups,” she said.

“The council does support them financially and supply equipment and the community groups supply materials and a supervisor.

“They go to community groups that couldn't afford to have the work done otherwise.”

Suzette Burton-Wright, a field officer with the Helena Jones Centre said the Warwick contingent were especially active.

“Because we work so closely with the Warwick community, it gives the offenders a chance at retribution and the community benefits from everything they have to offer,” she said.

“We focus quite a lot on our regular projects like Morgan Park, looking after the show grounds, cleaning St Mark's Church, Pringle cottage and the Senior Citizens.”

Ms Burton-Wright said it was a credit to Warwick that the program was welcomed with open arms, and preconceived notions of people serving time were let go.



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