A group of inmates towards the end of their sentence are applying the “broken window” principle to a riverside near the Tamworth CBD.
Working with volunteers such as land carers and builders, they’ve been cleaning, building and planting – improving the area for visitors, and boosting their skills and pride in the community.
Co-ordinator Anne Michie said the hope was to develop the area, at the Jewry Street weir, into a beautiful, shady, clean place for people to visit.
Ms Michie said the team had removed 16 shopping trolleys from the river and tonnes of rubbish from the area – and would keep it up until the message sank in that the mess would not be tolerated.
“If people see a broken window in a burnt-out house, they’ll think it’s [an] area that no one cares about, so what does it matter if they break something else or litter or graffiti?” she said.
“But if everything’s patched, everything’s fixed, it might just make people think, ‘Maybe I shouldn't throw rubbish there’.”
The project is a partnership between OzFish Northwest, BCF, Tamworth Regional Landcare and Tamworth Correctional Centre.
The work has been sporadic since November, due to the silly season, but will be weekly now.
Tamworth Correctional Centre community projects overseer Harrison Fittler said about 10 inmates were involved, going out in groups of four.
“The big emphasis with community projects for these boys is getting back into the community,” Mr Fittler said.
“When they get out, these boys can come down with their family and kids and go, ‘Hey, look guys, I put this bench in here and I was involved in all this’.
“They can come down here and enjoy this environment … they get that real positive vibe that they’re giving back to the community.”
They also stood to gain practical skills – such as on tools and in landscaping – that they could take home or into the workplace.