Alicia Wood Political Reporter
PUBLIC safety will be put at risk by cuts to parole halfway houses, the prison officers union claims.
In November, the state government will close seven of eight parole residences that house 104 people before they are released into the community.
Parolees in these houses are monitored as they reintegrate into the community, and get help finding jobs.
The Public Service Association has warned that the decision to close the houses will put the community at risk from ex-prisoners who are not properly rehabilitated.
As a result, 60 staff members from corrective services will lose their jobs, adding to the 350 jobs cut from jails across the state.
Senior industrial officer Evan Cole said the cuts were risky and unnecessary.
“The O’Farrell government’s cuts to prison and parole officer numbers and vital programs such as Community Offender Services is a serious compromise of the safety of staff and the wider community,” Mr Cole said.
“Accommodation services provided by the Community Offender Services Program are a safety net for a supervised re-entry of inmates on orders or parole back into the broader community.”
One of the seven houses will reopen next year under the management of the non-government sector.
The private sector will also tender for new services run within prisons, that will teach offenders how to reintegrate into the community.
A spokeswoman for the Attorney General Greg Smith said the halfway houses were not supervision services, and the non-government sector could provide more effective rehabilitation.
“This reform was motivated by a need to provide the best and most effective model for providing support to offenders. Previously taxpayers money was wasted because many of the existing centres were severely underused. Extra funding will be given to NGOs, including an extra $3m next financial year,” she said.
”[The existing] centres were poorly utilised, one was only used about 31 per cent of the time on average. This made them more expensive than a night in custody.
The new model will provide a much better use of taxpayers’ money while providing broader support.”