Plans announced today by the NSW government to sack over three quarters of the teachers in NSW prisons are an appallingly backward and damaging step, especially at a time when prisoner numbers are at record levels and education is a proven way to reduce re-offending, according to NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge.
The NSW government today announced its plans to reduce the overall corrective services education workforce from 152 full time equivalent (FTE) staff to just 87 across the state. The cuts to teacher numbers are particularly savage, reducing state-wide teacher numbers from 89 FTE staff to just 16. Head office staff will actually increase under the plans, from 8 FTE staff to 10.
Corrective Services currently provides vocational and second-chance education to NSW inmates, ensuring that prisoners are educated and ready for productive work when they are released.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“This is an ugly and short-sighted political attack from the Baird government on a critical education service in the state’s prisons that is proven to reduce re-offending and keep us all safer.
“At a time when the state’s prison population is at a record high, with more than 12,300 inmates, it is plain madness to cut three quarters of the state’s prison teaching staff.
“Tragically the brunt of the teaching losses will be from highly skilled teachers with decades of experience in teaching prisoners basic numeracy, literacy and work skills.
“Having enough experienced teachers to deliver crucial second chance education for inmates is essential if we want to reduce re-offending and ultimately keep NSW safer.
“While the overall 40% cut in the state wide prisoner education workforce is brutal, the loss of 82 teachers is especially harsh.
“The majority of these teachers are professionals in delivering literacy, numeracy and work skills to prisoners. Losing this experience would be a deep blow for the rehabilitation prospects of inmates in the state’s gaols.
“If cutting teachers wasn’t bad enough, at the same time Minister Elliot is increasing the number of bureaucrats in the prison education head office from 8 to 10.
‘We are calling on the government to rethink this disastrous plan and instead of shedding teaching staff, to invest in additional teachers to meet the enormous surge in the State’s prisoner numbers.
“It is hard to understand what possible rationale the government has for this plan, other than cutting the quality and coverage of teaching in corrective services to help meet the enormous costs they face from the blowout in prisoner numbers.
“The Greens support rational and fair bail law reform to reduce the number of prisoners on remand, and delivers sufficient savings to keep the state’s quality corrective services teachers employed.
“This is just one more part of the Baird government’s right wing plan to undermine professional teaching and public education in NSW,” Mr Shoebridge said.