Vale former CSNSW commissioner Ron Woodham

Flags will fly at half-mast at the state’s prisons following the death of former Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Ron Woodham.

Mr Woodham died peacefully yesterday aged 76 at Lismore Base Hospital on the state’s Mid North Coast. He had served the people of NSW for 46 years, including 10 as Commissioner.

CSNSW Acting Commissioner Kevin Corcoran PSM said it was a very sad day for corrections in Australia.

“I met Ron in the 1990s when I was Governor of Yatala Prison in South Australia and doing a review of dog squads and I was lucky enough to have dinner with him and share ideas.

“At the time he was definitely a legend in corrections around Australia. Everyone knew who Ron Woodham was – he was larger than life.

“I want to acknowledge the magnificent legacy he left – the animal repatriation schemes such as our RSPCA program, the Wildlife Centre, our greyhounds program.

“The work he did for women in custody was visionary. Places like the campus-style Dillwynia Correctional Centre and the mothers and children program at Emu Plains – these were groundbreaking at the time and are still considered the best in Australia, if not the world.”

CSNSW Deputy Commissioner Luke Grant, who worked alongside Mr Woodham for more than 20 years, said he left a valuable legacy in offender management.

“Ron is perhaps best known for his tough approach to prison security but he was most proud of his achievements introducing programs, services and policies that benefit Aboriginal people, women and people experiencing mental health issues,” Mr Grant said.

“These services and programs continue to this day and have changed the way corrections are administered for the better. Ron was a dedicated prison officer, a distinctive and vocal Commissioner and today we mourn his loss, but also honour his fine legacy.”

During his career, Mr Woodham received five citations for devotion to duty including two for managing hostage situations, one for recapturing the ‘Eastern Suburbs Rapist’ and a Ministerial Commendation for bravery.

He oversaw the introduction of case management in prisons and the construction of correctional facilities at Cessnock, Nowra, Wellington, Silverwater, Kempsey and Windsor.

The former shearer from Inverell in northern NSW began his corrections career in 1966 as a prison officer at Long Bay prison, supervising offenders working on the surrounding farm.

By 1972 he had progressed to head office to work as an establishment officer, focusing on the operations of the organisation. This was followed by positions in the Investigations Unit, Special Operations and as Assistant Commissioner, before being appointed Commissioner in 2002.

At his retirement in 2012, Mr Woodham praised his fellow staff for their important work in ensuring the safety of the public.

“I cannot speak highly enough of management and staff and of how proud I have been of the way we conduct ourselves within a difficult, complex and often dangerous job.

“Our community is so much safer as a result of the professional manner in which offenders are managed by Corrective Services NSW staff.”

Mr Woodham will be sadly missed by his family, friends and former colleagues. He is survived by a daughter and a son, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

As a mark of respect and mourning all flags at CSNSW facilities will be flown at half-mast from sunrise to sunset on the day of Mr Woodham’s funeral.

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