Oberon Correctional Centre marks 90 years

MILESTONE: Staff at Oberon Correctional Centre celebrating the facility's 90th birthday.
MILESTONE: Staff at Oberon Correctional Centre celebrating the facility's 90th birthday.

OBERON Correctional Centre is looking forward and looking back as it marks its 90th birthday.

The 140-bed prison opened in 1931 to provide labour to help clear and plant the Gurnang State Forest, 40 kilometres from Oberon.

Corrective Services NSW acting commissioner Kevin Corcoran said the minimum-security centre became a young offender facility in 1993 and now houses inmates aged between 18 and 25.

"We witness a huge change in the young offenders during the 16-week program they complete here," he said.

"As well as taking part in sessions dealing with aggression and addiction, they also face adventure challenges such as abseiling, bushwalking and camping.

UP IN THE AIR: The high ropes at the facility.

UP IN THE AIR: The high ropes at the facility.

"Our officers do great work helping young people re-examine their life goals and direction."

The young offender program combines adventure-based training with intensive therapeutic programs and job skills training in an aim to build the offenders' confidence and better prepare them for employment post-release.

It was designed by Jane Watson and the late Dennis Carey, who lost his battle with cancer in 2016.

Oberon manager of security Garry Comer said Mr Carey is remembered fondly by staff.

"His legacy lives on through the great work of our officers, who continue to challenge young people to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone," Mr Comer said.

"The centre has a fascinating history; the site was purchased in 1930 by the NSW Department of Justice.

"A small group of prison officers and inmates from the Bathurst Correctional Centre spent a year living in tents and clearing the land before the building work started in 1931.

"The Prison Camp played an important role in the community, providing transport and delivery of stores to the people of Shooters Hill and helping to maintain the roads.

FLASHBACK: Young offenders taking part in a building project in the 1990s.

FLASHBACK: Young offenders taking part in a building project in the 1990s.

"Film night on Saturday nights was attended by people in the local community, and the Oberon Garden Club would visit to see the beautiful gardens established there.

"Many staff members are locals and have a lot of history in the shire. Some staff had family members working here throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s."

Current staff marked the milestone by hosting a small ceremony and morning tea at the centre.