An innovative works approach

Maranoa Regional Council in southern Queensland is taking part in an innovative program that involves low risk prisoners carrying out maintenance works in the town of Mitchell.

Known as the Mitchell Work Program, the initiative is run by Queensland Corrective Services. Projects suitable for the low risk prisoners are identified in consultation with a Community Advisory Committee, chaired by Maranoa Regional Council’s Manager Community Development.

Construction of a sensory garden and pathway network at Maranoa Retirement Village recently earned the Mitchell Work Program one of two major State awards.

Maranoa Regional Council’s Acting Mayor, Tom Hartley, said the program took out top honours at Queensland Corrective Services’ annual Works Program Awards, including Queensland’s Best Overall Work Camp and Best Capital Works Project.

Councillor Hartley said the honour was well deserved, as the sensory garden had contributed significantly to the emotional and mental wellbeing of Retirement Village residents.

“Low risk prisoners built and planted raised garden beds, constructed footings and concrete pathways, and installed a prefabricated shade structure,” Councillor Hartley said. “The high quality of the work has resulted in a fantastic new covered seating area for events and celebrations, a path network which assists residents to maintain their mobility and independence, and a tactile and sensory outdoor space for all to enjoy.

“It has certainly improved quality of life at the village.”

Over the past 12 months the program has delivered close to 6,000 hours of assistance to various community projects and events in the Mitchell district, including:

  • installation of a timber shade structure and water fountain at Mitchell Skate Park
  • demolition and construction of horse stalls for Dunkeld Pony Club
  • development of a Historical Museum
  • flood clean up
  • general repairs and maintenance of community spaces and facilities like the showgrounds and sporting fields.

The Queensland Corrective Services Work Program is one of the most successful prisoner rehabilitation schemes in Queensland, injecting around $2.5 million a year into regional Queensland through community service.

“The Mitchell Program makes a significant and positive contribution to the district, and is an excellent example of how Work Camps can successfully function in partnership with communities and councils,” Councillor Hartley said.

The Mitchell Work Camp is located within the grounds of Maranoa Retirement Village.