Pat Towns and Mat Beacher have given thousands of inmates a second chance at a career in their combined 35 years at Cessnock’s Corrective Services Industries.
The duo head the maintenance and business units at the complex on Lindsay Street, which equips inmates with the skills, work ethic and qualifications to secure a job in a range of construction and trade industries.
They are among 10,000 Corrective Services NSW staff celebrated on National Corrections Day, Friday 15 January for their commitment to community safety.
Our 2021 National Corrections Day theme is Working together to reduce reoffending, focusing on ways our staff work hard to encourage positive change and rehabilitation.
Maintenance operations manager Pat Towns said it’s rewarding to give people the opportunity to provide for their families lawfully.
“Inmates walk in our doors with limited experience and through leadership and guidance by CSI they leave with employable skills and a work ethic which provides them with choices. They go on to secure apprenticeships, tertiary education or their own business,” Pat says.
“I was in a supermarket last week and bumped into one of our former inmates and he was telling me how he now runs his own electrical company and employs three staff. It was a trade he achieved while in custody at Cessnock.”
Both officers put their success down to a commitment to mentoring inmates and getting them work-ready to ensure a positive transition back into the community.
“A lot of the inmates come from backgrounds and personal circumstances that meant this is their first time in a job where they have to wake up at 6am, and clock seven hours on the job and turn up five days in a row,” Mat says.
“We take eligible inmates to Services NSW to teach them personal administration skills such as keeping operating licences up-to-date. Real-world lessons cannot be taken for granted.
“When they get out they could be your neighbour and you have to think what sort of neighbour do you want? We need to create change for future generations.”
Being in workplace environments prepares inmates for their release from custody and gives them the best chance of becoming contributing members of the community.
The Cessnock Industries Complex is one of the biggest prison industries in the state, employing 500 inmates and 45 staff in 11 areas, from food services and furniture production to powder coating, demountable construction and the new textiles unit.
The Cessnock maintenance team employs 60 inmates to look after the needs of Cessnock, Hunter and Shortland correctional centres, including plumbing, electrical and all repair work.
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