Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin attended the flag-lowering ceremony at Grafton Correctional Centre on Friday, July 17, 2020 to mark the historic site's closure.
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin attended the flag-lowering ceremony at Grafton Correctional Centre on Friday, July 17, 2020 to mark the historic site's closure.

Why former staff were 'snubbed' from jail closure

CORRECTIVE Services NSW has defended its stance to restrict the number of people invited to attend the last official flag lowering ceremony to mark the closure of Grafton Correctional Centre on July 17.

Former Grafton Correctional Centre governor John Heffernan. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner
Former Grafton Correctional Centre governor John Heffernan. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner

Former Grafton jail governor Bill Heffernan published a scathing open letter expressing disappointment that former employees and serving staff members' families were 'shunned' from attending proceedings.

"Only a few years ago when it was announced the centre was to be downsized a picket line was established at the front of the gaol to demonstrate just how important it was to the local community," Mr Heffernan wrote.

"Now those who fought to retain the centre were not even given the opportunity to observe the final curtain come down on the centre's operation.

"I believe concerns over the COVID-19 virus were offered as the reason the ceremony was to be for staff only. With respect, I do not accept that - an audience could have stood over the road and watched ensuring a safe distance."  

  In a response to the letter published in The Daily Examiner, communications director Michael Duffy insisted the Corrective Service NSW's hand was forced by government guidelines.

"Corrective Services NSW regrets not being able to invite more people to the closing ceremony for Grafton prison," Mr Duffy said.

"The Minister for Health permitted the event on condition it was restricted to a limited number of current staff.

"Corrective Services NSW will continue to follow government directions during the COVID-19 pandemic."



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