Corrective Services NSW axes Centacare-run Extra Offender Management Service in Tamworth

Axe falls: Corrective Services NSW said it was closing the Extra Offender Management Service (EOMS) that was run by Centacare in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin
Axe falls: Corrective Services NSW said it was closing the Extra Offender Management Service (EOMS) that was run by Centacare in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin

A COUNSELLING program to target recidivist offenders has been quietly axed in Tamworth.

The Extra Offender Management Service (EOMS) was based at Centacare in Tamworth to help counsel repeat and persistent offenders but will close after just a year of operations.

Corrective Services NSW blames a low take-up of the program at five sites across the state, including Tamworth.

After one year, less than 100 people accessed the service across NSW.

The Leader has been told the program was littered with problems from the start because it was not based within the court arena, and magistrates, solicitors and police were not able to refer repeat offenders into the program, like its predecessor, the CREDIT program.

Opening: There EOMS program was announced in a statement in May 2017 by Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Centacare NENW CEO Fergus Fitzsimons. Photo: Supplied

Opening: There EOMS program was announced in a statement in May 2017 by Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Centacare NENW CEO Fergus Fitzsimons. Photo: Supplied

Instead, justice staff would identify and recommend those who could access the EOMS program, based on their criminal history.

A spokesperson for Centacare New England said they were not in a position to make comment on the axing on Friday. It’s believed the organisation was notified on Thursday.

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EOMS was rolled out in June 2017 in Tamworth, as one of five locations, a spokeswoman for Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) said in a statement to The Leader on Friday afternoon.

“Following a review of the service’s effectiveness and viability, the NSW Government is closing the service at four sites, as it has failed to meet expected performance targets,” the spokeswoman said.

“Only 94 offenders engaged in the case management service since it was established in June last year.    

Only 94 offenders engaged in the case management service since it was established in June last year.

Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman

“We wish to thank the staff at Centacare for their commitment.”

At the 2017 EOMS launch, Centacare New England North West CEO Fergus Fitzsimons said the organisation’s approach would be “a holistic one, factoring in all elements that have impacted and affected the life of the offender”.

At the same time, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the program was part of a $32 million contract to provide “high-quality one-on-one intervention” and involve rehabilitation in the community.

Key supporter: Magistrate Roger Prowse said in 2016 the CREDIT program was extraordinarily effective in reducing re-offending. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Key supporter: Magistrate Roger Prowse said in 2016 the CREDIT program was extraordinarily effective in reducing re-offending. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Since the shock announcement on Thursday, those in the justice and crime circle have told The Leader it’s another blow for troubled offenders, leaving the city with limited access to programs to target recidivist offenders.

Unlike the Court Referral of Eligible Defendants into Treatment (CREDIT), the EOMS program did not provide crisis accommodation. The CREDIT voluntary program focused on intensive intervention for up to six months and linked participants to other crisis services to target any underlying problems such as housing, education, employment and training, domestic violence and disability services, debt management, health and medication, anger management and even parenting programs.

Participants labelled it a “game-changer” and it was praised by magistrates.

The spokeswoman for Corrective Services said the government had invested a record $330 million in programs to reduce the reoffending rate in 2017, and as part of this funding, CSNSW established 10 High Intensity Program Units, mostly in regional NSW, which focus on offenders who have committed domestic and other violent offences. It is not based in Tamworth.

Magistrate credits trial: The Credit program had three case managers including from left to right, Lindy, Bronny and Naomi, with Magistrate Michael Holmes in 2014. Photo: Gareth Gardner 160614GGA07

Magistrate credits trial: The Credit program had three case managers including from left to right, Lindy, Bronny and Naomi, with Magistrate Michael Holmes in 2014. Photo: Gareth Gardner 160614GGA07

“We also continue to provide funding to not for profit, non-government organisations to deliver a range of services that support our aim in reducing reoffending,” the spokeswoman said.

“We have also partnered with three service providers, arbias, Centacare and Housing Plus to provide additional Initial Transitional Support at 14 new sites, which provides up to 12 weeks support for higher risk parolees under the supervision of Community Corrections.

“Services commenced at 14 new sites in February with funding of $1.5 million annually.

“We’re also establishing new and improved custodial case management units at all correctional centres across the state to provide individually-tailored rehabilitation programs.

“Almost 20,000 inmates are expected to benefit from the new case management approach over the next three years, which will support a reduction in the state’s re-offending rate.”

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