The Palaszczuk Government will boost community safety and regional employment opportunities with a record $1.17 billion 2022-23 Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) operating budget – a 7.7 per cent increase over the previous financial year.
A highlight of the budget is the expanded capacity of the new correctional centre currently under construction at the Southern Queensland Correctional Precinct at Gatton.
The employment opportunities associated with both the construction and operation of the new correctional centre at Gatton are another example of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to creating good, secure jobs in regional Queensland.
The new centre will be a modern, purpose-built facility with more than 1500 beds, an increase of 500 beds on the original plan, and will enable a focus on health and rehabilitation to reduce reoffending.
Construction of the new correctional centre is on track with major works expected to be completed by the end of 2023 and commissioning in the first half of 2024, weather permitting.
The project is expected to create over 900 construction jobs in the region at its peak and once the centre is fully operational there will be over 600 ongoing operational jobs at the new correctional centre.
Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said measures in this budget confirm the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to creating good jobs and delivering better services.
“The expansion of the centre at Gatton will provide a massive boost to the community in jobs and generated income,” Mr Ryan said.
“Furthermore, this record budget includes measures to support community safety outcomes across Queensland as well as a number of important additions to enhance the outstanding work of custodial officers, community corrections officers and QCS staff more broadly.
“Investments in safety and security by the Palaszczuk Government in this budget are another way we are delivering better services to make the Queensland community, our officers and our staff safer.”
The security and safety of correctional centres and custodial officers will be improved across Queensland with a collective investment of more than $230 million over four years to improve electronic security systems and for maintenance and minor works.
This includes funding to further boost custodial officer safety through the installation of safety hatches in older style cell doors and the purchase of additional body worn cameras for staff.
The record 2022-23 budget also invests $3 million to continue the installation of additional bunk beds in high-security centres across the state, $6.6 million to complete the upgrade of the intercom system at the Woodford Correctional Centre, and $1.3 million to complete refurbishment of the Princess Alexandra Hospital Secure Unit.
QCS Commissioner Paul Stewart said the budget contains vital funding required to expand Queensland prison capacity, revitalise existing prison infrastructure and to start looking at future infrastructure needs.
“It’s no secret that QCS staff work in a challenging environment, so the funding this budget provides to further improve staff safety is truly welcomed,” Commissioner Stewart said.
“QCS staff are committed to protecting the community, rehabilitating offenders and reducing recidivism. This budget provides additional funding to enhance delivery across all of these priorities.”
Measures previously announced to better resource the Parole Board Queensland (PBQ) by increasing the number of PBQ teams will be further extended, with $18.3 million to continue the temporary fourth and fifth teams for a further two years and appoint a temporary sixth team for 12 months.
This will help to deliver better services and further improve community safety by ensuring PBQ has access to sufficient resources and critical intelligence and information to make community safety centred parole decisions. Additional funding will also establish a permanent Chief Administrative Officer position and temporary project team to assist with streamlining the work of the PBQ.
The record budget also enhances the efforts of officers and staff with a more than $66.9 million over four years commitment to upgrade the Integrated Offender Management System (IOMS) along with expanded end-to-end case management, increased cultural liaison support, front-end recruiting and training and additional psychological and disability support services.