SNEAK PEEK: Take a look inside the new jail
AS THE opening date for the new jail edges closer, members of the NSW Government were swiped in to take a look at how it was progressing.
The facility has come a long way since the first sod was turned two years ago and yesterday marked the final installation of buildings in the 400-bed male minimum security wing.
Inspecting a self contained living space prisoners would be responsible for, as part of Serco's "responsible prisoner model", Minister for Corrections, Anthony Roberts said a lot of planning had gone into not just the facility itself but the community's ability to service the prison.
Mr Roberts said he was "very confident" Grafton could handle the extra load taken on by other sectors outside of the prison.
"This is going to be a great opportunity for the local region and we have been working closely with everyone that will be affected, in a positive way, with respect to this new build," he said.
"I am looking forward to seeing the results, not just with the completion here, but to the flow-on effects to the broader economy.
"We are talking about people not having to leave and go to Sydney or Brisbane to actually have a career or another pathway in the workforce. We want people to stay with their families, we want to grow the place."
Speaking of the major industry buildings which would facilitate vocational training, new Clarence Correctional Centre general manager Glen Scholes said the intent of the "responsible prisoner model" was to provide inmates with skills they needed to have "the best possible opportunity to be law abiding citizens".
"Industry is part of the hub of providing quality vocational training to inmates with a view to making sure they have the skill set to go out in to the community as law abiding citizens and get a job," he said.
Serco CEO Mark Irwin explained that it was through the physical design of the prison which helped support their model and all the factors which typically drive re-offending were addressed "all the way through peoples residence at the facility".
"While they are in the facility we focus on the importance of skills and employability when they leave. We teach basic things like how to manage a budget, work through a structured day we establish a connection with family and community," he said.
Mr Irwin also said he had been pleased with the response from the community to Serco's recruitment drive and that more than 2000 people had applied to join the prison workforce.
"More than half of those expressions have come from female job-seekers and we have almost 8 per cent from people who have declared themselves from Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander," he said.
"We would encourage people to continue to apply for jobs, there are a range of roles here not just custodial officers but health staff catering staff, cleaning, vocational training."
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the project delivered unrivalled benefits for the local community.
"We expect the new prison will inject $560 million into the economy over the next 20 years, with local jobs being created during both the construction and operations phases."