Prisoners help Fraser Coast get ready for disaster season

Prisoners at Maryborough Correctional Centre are giving the local community a head start on preparation for storm season, already filling 6,000 sandbags in readiness for possible flooding.

General Manager of Maryborough Correctional Centre, Chief Superintendent Kris Winter said it was the fifth year that the prison had helped the Wide Bay region to get ready for natural disasters with a stockpile of sandbags.

“Queensland Corrective Services has an integral role in supporting disaster management groups across Queensland to prepare for and clean up after weather events,” Ch Supt Winter said.

“Last summer, our local prisoners filled almost 10,000 sandbags which were used by Fraser Coast Regional Council to protect the Maryborough CBD during two significant flood events.”

Chief Superintendent Winter said the centre’s prisoners welcome the opportunity to give back to the community.

“The prisoners are supporting our emergency services to keep the community safe by filling the sandbags and they’re learning valuable work and life skills to help them avoid further offending when they’re back in the community,” Ch Supt Winter said.

“Work like this also increases the safety of our centres by engaging prisoners in meaningful activities and providing the chance to interact with our officers in a positive, respectful way, which supports rehabilitation and behaviour change.”

Having sandbags stockpiled at the ready in SES depots boosts our ability to respond in an emergency, Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said.

“Having the sandbags at the depots means Council and the SES volunteers are ready to move and hit the ground running in an event rather than having to divert resources into filling sandbags,” he said.

Most of the sandbags will be used to protect Council property, especially those in the Maryborough CBD.

“The sandbags will be used as part of the construction of the temporary flood levee which is installed down Adelaide Street to protect the CBD,” Mayor Seymour said.

Council will still operate sandbag filling points for residents to fill bags if they are needed during widespread flood events.

Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders praised the tremendous work that Queensland Corrective Services staff do to keep our community safe.

“Today we have heard how the Maryborough Correctional Centre is not only protecting our community by keeping prisoners off the street, but they are putting those very prisoners to work filling sandbags which will protect our homes and properties from potential flood waters.  It’s a win-win for the Fraser Coast community,” Mr Saunders said.

“The program is a testimony to the close working relationship that has been developed between state government departments and local government.”