Tamworth Correctional Centre staff and inmates have been busy maintaining and improving a valuable community reserve and mountain bike track.
The inmate work crews, overseen by officer Dean Hensley, have dedicated about 80 hours of mowing, weeding and hard yakka to assist with upkeep and upgrades at the Tamworth Mountain Bike Park.
Corrective Services NSW trade overseer Hensley said the work was just one of a number of projects the crew had been working on over the past 12 months.
“It’s really great to get out there and assist not-for-profit and other community groups with grounds maintenance and other work that they might not have the time, volunteers or funds for,” Mr Hensley said.
“The crew and I find it satisfying to get a good job done and see improvements, but the inmates also feel a strong sense of pride in giving back to the community and helping to make something a little better.
“These projects are also a good opportunity for inmates to gain new skills and become accustomed to work hours and routines, which has a positive impact on their chances of rehabilitation.”
Mr Hensley’s Community Project Teams are made of groups of four carefully-selected minimum-security inmates.
One group has spent the past four to five weeks providing valuable maintenance work at the mountain bike park and the Yuundu Warrawi Cultural Trail, a traditional Kamilaroi pathway between the Peel River and Stone Axe Quarry.
Tamworth Mountain Bikers Treasurer Jeff Benson said the club was grateful to have the assistance of the inmate work crew.
“We’re very pleased to have them there and it’s great to see them doing something worthwhile and giving back to the community,” Mr Benson said.
“They have helped to maintain our picnic area by mowing and hoeing broadleaf weeds. This has no doubt been a contributing factor to the threefold increase in family attendance and bike riders into the park, in particular during the COVID-19 restrictions.
“We are currently developing a new 3km walking trail as part of a major funding grant from the NSW Stronger Country Communities Fund. The work crew have been busy with brush-cutting, shaping trails and weed control. They have been keen to participate and have shown a great commitment to their work.”
The Community Project Team has also been working with Tamworth Regional Landcare Association, Tamworth Junior Riding and Pony Club, and Kootingal and District Pony Club.