THE NSW Government can make changes at Grafton Jail that won't result in the wholesale destruction of the community, according to the union representing prison officers.
Prison Officers Union president Matt Bindley is in Grafton until Friday, meeting with prison staff in the wake of the shock announcement to partially close the jail and cut almost 100 staff.
"We can guarantee the jail can be run cheaper if management will just give us the chance to put the plans in place," Mr Bindley told The Daily Examiner yesterday.
"All we ask is that we can meet with them to discuss these issues in a civilised manner."
Mr Bindley, who has spent the past two days talking to people whose lives have been shattered, likened the cuts to Grafton Jail to a family break-up.
"One thing the bureaucrats tend to forget is that here it is more than just doing a job," he said.
"It's like breaking up a family structure, separating these people and scattering them around the state.
"A lot of these people were brought up in Grafton and worked in the system to eventually get back to Grafton to work.
"They looked at transferring to Grafton as coming home."
Mr Bindley said the community needs to support a rally planned for Thursday in Market Square, Grafton, to protest the cuts at the jail.
Tony King, a spokesperson for rally organisers Clarence Valley Community Unions, said the community needs to support the prison officers by attending Thursday's rally and signing a petition calling on the Government to reverse its decision on the jail.
"We need to get 10,000 signatures before we can take it to the Parliament," Mr King said.
"I would like to see Market Square packed out to send a message to the Government that Grafton is not going to let it destroy this city."
Mr King said he was disgusted to read the comments of Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis about a dysfunctional culture at the jail.
He questioned the logic of punishing the entire prison staff for the actions of a few people.
"Sure, there might be a few people who needed disciplining, but it's a management problem, not a signal to shut down the jail," he said.
Mr King said the rally against Jail cutbacks would begin at 12.15pm on Thursday.
Clarence Valley Community Unions have a list of questions they Mr Gulaptis to answer.
When was our local member told that this restructure Grafton Jail was proposed?
Will the local member disclose who made the final decision to undertake this restructure?
Will the local member explain what actions his Government has taken to address so called "issues" reported at Grafton Jail?
Why have 92 workers, their families and the community been punished because of the "so-called" actions of 11?
Will our local member take up our community's plea to reverse this decision and save our town?
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