Prisoners help Fraser Coast prepare for storm season

Prisoners at Maryborough Correctional Centre are playing an important role in preparing the Fraser Coast for storm season, filling 5,000 sandbags to be stockpiled for use in the event of flooding in the region.

General Manager of Maryborough Correctional Centre, Chief Superintendent Kris Winter said it was the fourth year the prison had played a hand in disaster preparedness by filling sandbags.

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

“Opportunities for prisoners to give back to the community, such as filling sandbags here at Maryborough Correctional Centre, have a threefold effect.

“Not only do they support our wonderful emergency services to keep the community safe, it teaches prisoners work and life skills that help equip them to avoid further offending when they are back in the community.

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

Having sandbags stockpiled ready at the ready at the SES depots would boost the region’s ability to respond in an emergency, head of the Fraser Coast Local Disaster Management Group, Mayor George Seymour said.

“Every minute we can save in the lead up to an emergency is vital,” Mayor Seymour said.

“By having sandbags ready at the SES depots we will able to prepare at more sites rather than having to divert SES volunteers to filling sandbags.”

Local MP, 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 was a testimony to the close working relationship that had been developed between state government departments and local government.

The program developed from a conversation between the Council’s Disaster Planning Co-ordinator Brendan Guy and members of the parole board.

Most sandbags will be used to protect assets, especially those in the Maryborough CBD.

Mayor Seymour said the sandbags would be used in the construction of the temporary flood levy down Adelaide Street to protect the CBD.

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