The first stage of the enormous upgrade to South Australia’s corrections sector is complete as the Marshall Liberal Government continues the $159 million development, creating hundreds of jobs as part of the biggest cash injection into the state’s prison system in decades.
Today, Minister for Correctional Services Vincent Tarzia officially opened the James Hugo Complex and Dennis “Taffy” Watkins Wellbeing Centre at Northfield Correctional Complex – named after two distinguished and dedicated staff members who served the sector for more than 80 years combined.
The James Hugo Complex houses the Northern Metropolitan Business Centre and Learning Academy. The staff wellbeing centre with gym is dedicated to Mr Watkins and lives within the complex.
“Mr Hugo has always been highly regarded, working in numerous important roles for more than 50 years, only recently retiring due to ill health,” Minister Tarzia said.
“Mr Watkins was a dedicated correctional officer at Yatala Labour Prison (YLP) for more than 30 years. He was an advocate for staff health and wellbeing, and mentored many officers during his service. He retired in 2013 and sadly passed away in 2017.”
The Dennis “Taffy” Watkins Wellbeing Centre will support positive mental health for staff with a gym, café area, rest areas and training rooms.
“I thank both of them for their incredible service and am honoured to officially open these facilities,” Minister Tarzia said.
Stage 1 was completed by South Australian family-owned business Sarah Constructions and, at the peak of construction, employed 70 local workers. Up to 500 trade workers were employed onsite across the life of the project.
Stage 2 main works will see 270 new high-security beds constructed at YLP. It is expected upgrades will be ready for use at the start of the 2021/22 financial year. The work will create new jobs.
The full upgrade consists of:
- New visits and admissions centre to service the expanded prison facility.
- New commercial kitchen with sufficient capacity to service expanded prison facility.
- Expansion of the secure perimeter fence.
- New administration and personnel support, wellbeing centre with gym and staff carpark.
- New critical infrastructure services for YLP site.
The new Learning Academy promotes and encourages staff engagement in a range of training and development opportunities. Staff members will be able to improve key skills in correctional practice, management and leadership, and work health and safety, to ensure they continue performing at the highest standards.
The Northern Metropolitan Business Centre provides a range of facilities across human resources, financial and procurement services. It will allow staff to continue to provide these business services to YLP, Adelaide Women’s Prison and Adelaide Pre-release Centre. These services extend to the Northern Metropolitan Community Corrections region, which includes Elizabeth, North East and Port Adelaide Community Correctional Centres.
Main works at the Northfield Correctional Complex will start soon and include the development of secure accommodation units, perimeter fencing, a kitchen facility, and a visits and admissions building.
Completion of the full redevelopment is expected in July 2022. In April, the Department of Treasury and Finance approved a further $10m in funding to transition electronic security systems at YLP from analogue to digital, boosting the Marshall Liberal Government’s input from $149m to $159m.