Maryborough Correctional Centre - (L) Michael Sunderland (Correctional Mgr. Prison Industries) and General Mgr. Darryll Fleming in the wood workshop with timber pallets made by prison inmates.
Maryborough Correctional Centre - (L) Michael Sunderland (Correctional Mgr. Prison Industries) and General Mgr. Darryll Fleming in the wood workshop with timber pallets made by prison inmates. Alistair Brightman

Renewed call for prison farm in Maryborough region

A COMMUNITY leader in Howard has called for a prison farm to be established in the Maryborough region, which she claims will allow low-risk offenders to give back to the community.

Burrum District Community Centre president Faye Whiffin said she would like to see people imprisoned for minor offences given work on the proposed farm to allow them to "work off their debt to society" and keep them away from "hardened criminals" locked up in the Maryborough jail.

Ms Whiffin said undertaking work such as growing vegetables and learning skills through farming would "turn around the lives of low-risk offenders".

"It would be teaching people the skills they may never have been introduced to and giving them skills for the future," Ms Whiffin told the Chronicle.

"For low-level offenders, they would be better served doing things like that."

Calls for a prison farm in the region have previously been supported by Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders, who said the prisoners eligible for the program could be of "great assistance" at future Fraser Coast events.

Ms Whiffin said the current system was "not working", referencing the increasing levels of SPER debt across the Fraser Coast.

More than $19million in unpaid fines is outstanding on the Fraser Coast, according to the latest figures from the State Penalties Enforcement Registry.

"It's not a deterrent... the incentive to take this up is pretty powerful when you're locked up, as opposed to voluntary work," Ms Whiffin said.

"The rehabilitation factor would be paid back in spades and help them (inmates) face up to their responsibilities."

More than 600 inmates are currently locked up at the Maryborough Correctional Centre, with the number climbing in recent years.

Tensions have erupted over the years due to the rising numbers.