Frequently Asked Questions – Planning


The new centre is required to address the critical shortage of correctional centre beds and facilities within NSW, due to unprecedented growth in inmate numbers across the State.

The downsizing of the old Grafton Gaol and its reclassification as an Intake and Transient Centre as well as the current and forecasted undersupply of female and minimum security capacity within the Northern Rivers region means the NSW Government needs a new correctional centre to effectively deliver corrective services in an efficient and sustainable manner in Northern NSW.

No decision has yet been made.

The site of the new correctional centre is located approximately 12.5km south-east of Grafton and 3km north-east of the Clarence Valley Regional Airport in the Clarence Valley local government area.  It is located at 313 Avenue Road, Lavadia and will be serviced by the Grafton Bypass.

The correctional centre will provide 1,700 beds composed of:

  • A maximum security section of 1,300 beds that will include:
    • 1,000 beds for male inmates and  
    • 300 beds for female inmates.
  • A minimum security section that will consist of 400 beds for male inmates.

The prison will be responsible for remand, reception and placement for specified offender groups, feature state-of-the-art security and surveillance and will provide best practice rehabilitation services.

The Grafton Correctional Centre will become a regional hub, similar to Cessnock, and will be supported by existing smaller specialist centres, allowing most prisoners to complete their sentence and reoffending programs in one region, saving on transport costs and delivering better value for money.

The Project will deliver hundreds of jobs to the region during and after construction and will create longterm economic opportunities locally through the procurement of goods and services and the extra wages it brings to the region. The project is expected to:

  • Inject around $650 million into the local economy
  • Create around 1,100 jobs during construction
  • Create around 600 during operation with at least an additional 105 jobs created in the regional economy.

Infrastructure NSW on behalf of Corrective Services NSW, a division of the Department of Justice, is the agency responsible for the procurement and delivery of the Project. The Project will transfer to the Department of Justice at the completion of the Delivery Phase.

Following the successful delivery of the design and construction of the new facility, the winning consortium will operate and maintain the correctional complex for 20 years and receive performance related payment from the State.


The NSW Government is committed to improving standards in all NSW correctional centres. To achieve this, Corrective Service NSW has begun a major reform program, “Better Prisons”, to lift performance, reduce reoffending and improve the efficiency of the correctional services system. Better Prisons will deliver a correctional services system that accommodates more inmates, operates more efficiently and has a greater focus on rehabilitation, without compromising safety and security.

Increased rehabilitation contributes to a reduction in reoffending and creates safer communities. To achieve this CSNSW will need to deliver improvements such as:

  • improved productivity
  • increased out of cells hours
  • greater access to employment, education and programs for inmates.

Better Prisons will introduce a number of activities to help correctional centres improve their operations. These include:

  • performance reporting against set targets
  • additional beds
  • benchmarked budgets for all correctional centres
  • changes to correctional centre operations to increase productivity
  • increased competition between the public and private sector for correctional centre management.

Site Selection

It was assessed as the best possible location after a rigorous site selection process because it is:

  • Not prone to bushfires or flooding and poses no significant risk to the environment, community or European heritage
  • Relatively clear, requiring little further vegetation clearing and is a relatively flat site minimising site works and costs
  • Currently zoned to permit a range of industrial uses, including as a correctional centre with consent.

The 195-hectare site was chosen for a number of reasons including ensuring there was enough space to build required infrastructure such as a waste water treatment plant, detention ponds, a car park for staff and visitors, other amenities and for security purposes.

There are no existing services to the site however the NSW Government is funding a number of infrastructure upgrades to the site including road, water, electrical and telecommunications.

The possibility for onsite sewage treatment is being investigated and a treatment pond and infrastructure will be built to allow drinking water to be supplied from the town water supply.


The old Grafton Correctional Centre is an old facility that cannot expand due to its location in town.

The NGCC is considered to be a State Significant Development and planning approval from the Department of Planning and Environment is being obtained in two stages:

  • Stage one: concept proposal and early works
  • Stage two: detailed design, construction and operation.

The stage one planning application was on public display during August and September last year and planning approval has been granted.

The stage two planning application will be completed by Northern Pathways in mid-2017 which will cover design, construction and operation of the new facility.

The concept proposal included:

  • Maximum built height of 12 metres
  • Approx. gross floor area of 100,000 square metres
  • Store building, small ancillary facilities and a central energy plant located outside the perimeter walls/fence
  • Access to/from the centre via Avenue Road
  • Car parking for approximately 500 cars
  • Other associated facilities including recreational oval, special accommodation units, health facilities, education and programs areas, administration, workshops, staff amenities, visitor facilities and utilities.
  • A 100metre wide Asset Protection Zone for bushfire protection
  • A vegetation buffer (between 15 – 50m wide depending on location)
  • Fire access roads on the inside and outside of the perimeter fence
  • Water, power, wastewater and communication utilities within the site.


The final design of the project will be carried out by Northern Pathways and is subject to further stages of planning and design work. However, the building envelope will be a maximum of 12 metres high (about three stories) and about 100,000 square metres of gross floor area.

The detailed design, construction and operation will be covered in the stage two planning application which is expected to be on public display later this year.

The detailed design, which will seek approvals during the stage two SSDA, may include:

  • A permanent 1.5m high perimeter fence to secure the site.  
  • A 6mhigh wall or fence with a 2 storey gatehouse integrated with the perimeter walls or fences along Avenue Road.  
  • A number of outbuildings including a central store, a central energy plant, blackwater treatment facilities, and a drug dog detection unit and yard.  
  • Ongrade car parking will be provided for staff and visitors.  
  • Onsite detention and storage ponds for stormwater, sewage treatment and potable water.
  • Outside the secure perimeters, light and CCTV camera poles of approximately 10 m in height.
  • A single site entrance point will be established off Avenue Road. 

The maximum fence height is 6 metres. The design of the fence will be determined by Northern Pathways as part of the stage two planning application.

This will be determined by Northern Pathways and will be subject to stage two planning approval.


It will be delivered as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to deliver high quality, efficient, value-for-money correctional services. The private sector will be responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the facility with ownership to be retained by the NSW Government.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are one of the options the Government uses to procure infrastructure. PPPs offer opportunities to improve services and achieve better value for money in the development of service based infrastructure. They help to reduce government risk, encourage innovation through an outcomes focus, and allow greater asset utilisation and integrated whole-of-life asset management.


Site establishment and early work is expected to start in mid-2017.

  • Vegetation clearance and biodiversity management activities.
  • Construction of access roads including fire access roads to the extent required to conduct Stage 1 works.
  • Construction of auxiliary facilities such as construction compound, construction staff parking facilities and stockpiles sites.  
  • Temporary provision of water, power and communication services within the site.
  • Demolition of the existing house and sheds.
  • Bulk excavation and site stabilisation works.
  • Landscaping.

Subject to stage two planning approval, major construction is expected to start in early 2018 and be completed by 2019.

A number of impacts during construction are expected including noise, vibration and dust however these will be mitigated wherever possible. More information on the construction impacts and mitigations will be detailed in the stage two planning application.


It is expected to be in operation from mid-2020.

Yes, the new measures apply to all private and public correctional centres.

The NSW Government and Northern Pathways are committed to the safety and security and decent treatment of all Inmates.

The facility has been designed to ensure inmate safety. The contemporary design allows for clear lines of sight for effective surveillance, the use of market-leading security systems will enable the transmission of real-time information. There are separate centres within the overall correctional complex will hold inmates of differing security categories and genders. The use of internal zones within each facility and specialised units for high-need inmates will further contribute to the management of inmate safety.

Serco’s operations also ensure the safety of inmates. All Inmates will be risk-assessed and managed accordingly. All Inmates will be monitored and supervised at all times and staff will use innovative technology such as body cameras for their safety.

Serco will operate State-approved procedures in its management of the facility, including procedures to care for inmates who may be unwell or at risk of self-harm. All staff members will be fully trained through a State-approved training program and led by a team of experienced correctional managers.

The NSW Government and Serco will have a zero tolerance policy towards contraband at the new facility. Serco will deter and detect contraband through a combination of intelligence, targeted searches and intensive screening. An intelligence unit will gather, analyse, and appropriately disseminate information, including to the Police, contributing to the security of the complex and wider Grafton community.

Robust policies and procedures will assist in the detection and deterrence of contraband at the complex. Risk areas such as internal grounds will be searched on a daily basis. All visitors and staff will be screened upon entry to the facility and state of the art mobile phone and drug detection technologies will be implemented.

Serco will implement a strict social media policy. In line with contraband policy, access to mobile phones and other communication devices is restricted and use of social media by inmates will not be tolerated. If inmates are found to breach these policies, they may be subject to internal charges and punishment such as loss of privileges. Tablet devices provided to inmates for education programs will have no connectivity outside of the centres. Where it appears a third party may be engaging in social media on behalf of an inmate, it will be investigated and internal charges may be laid. Serco will inform the police if it believes and individual may be breaking the law.

Community safety is paramount to the NSW Government and Northern Pathways. Serco as the operator has a strong record of community safety from all the facilities they operate.

The operator-led design of the facility will enhance its overall security such as the integration of market-leading security systems enabling real-time information. Decentralised service delivery minimises inmate movements via neighbourhoods and Community Centres. This movement minimisation reduces the potential for issues.

Northern Pathways recognises the importance of reparation in the ongoing rehabilitation of inmates. They will encourage community connection and will develop work release programs to provide inmate workers for a range of community projects. This will both support the needs of the individual but, importantly, the community they will return to.

Work release programs are subject to strict governance in line with Corrective Services NSW policy. Serco has a strong track record managing release from its work at Wandoo Reintegration Facility where a program of 24hour GPS tracking is conducted via ankle bracelets. This allows minimum security prisoners with Departmental clearance to work or study in the community during the day while being fully monitored and evaluated.

The NSW Government and Northern Pathways are committed to maximising local employment. Northern Pathways will:

  • Provide opportunities for employment, with flexible employment options and training, including apprenticeships in the design and construction phases.
  • Work with local subcontractors, businesses and tradespeople to ensure that a significant proportion of this work is undertaken by people and businesses in the region.
  • Identify opportunities for local people to work across a range of positions in operations with localised training and recruitment.
  • Create opportunities for local businesses during operations in the supply and delivery of goods and services.
  • Partner with local businesses to offer Inmates a pathway to employment.

Northern Pathways recognises the importance of Aboriginal people in the Grafton region. They will work with local Aboriginal groups and employer groups to identify opportunities and develop an employment and engagement strategy to ensure these opportunities are realised.

Northern Pathways will engage with the local community throughout all phases of the project. They will be consulted and involved in decisions that affect it, and make sure it is kept up to date on the progress of the project. They will build productive partnerships with local industries, NGOs and service providers, and particularly the traditional land owners and local Aboriginal groups such as with Gurehlgam Corporation; Social Futures, North Coast Community Housing; Community Restorative Centre (CRC), Country Regional Network and Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

Serco as the operator will undertake community sponsorship programs where local organisations can access funds for key activities in areas such as sport, the arts, health programs and youth interventions.

The NSW Government is committed to reducing the rate of reoffending in NSW and will work closely Northern Pathways to achieve this. They will implement best practice programs such as:

  • Our Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs and industries to develop inmates’ work ethos and employment skills, with programs focused on in-demand skills within the community.
  • Rehabilitation and reintegration approach to develop capable citizens and facilitate successful community reintegration.
  • Integrating local NGOs into case planning from the beginning of the inmate journey.
  • On-Site service delivery partner to ensure inmates can access reintegration services immediately upon their release from NGCC.

Serco has been operating prison facilities in Australia and the UK for almost 20 years. In that time we have built an operating philosophy informed by previous successes and issues.

The objective of our operational philosophy is to ensure a safe and secure experience for all and to provide targeted services and programs that address offending behaviours and reduce reoffending. This philosophy is underpinned by robust governance to ensure compliance with legislation, contract standards and community expectations.

The four pillars that uphold and support the achievement of our objectives are:

  1. Safe and secure containment – services and measures that keep prisoners, staff and visitors safe, and which are appropriate to a prisoner’s security classification, behaviours, risks and needs
  2. Care and wellbeing – attending to a prisoner’s health and wellbeing is a fundamental right and a pre-requisite to addressing offending behaviour and making positive change
  3. A busy and purposeful day – structured days provide a wide range of services, programs and skilling opportunities, tailored to each prisoner’s needs, to build on their strengths and support their post-release plan
  4. Procedural compliance – complying with all legislative and contract standards ensures we operate as a fully integrated element of our clients’ correctional systems, providing full visibility of our services and performance and enabling consistent monitoring across the entire network.

Corrective Services New South Wales will allocate inmates to the new centre.

Northern Pathways will be required to meet rigorous performance standards to ensure best practice operations. Corrective Services New South Wales will maintain staff (Monitors) at the new centre.

A number of minimum security inmates from the 400-bed, male minimum security correctional centre will be employed in work positions across the site. These inmates will be subject to thorough clearance and assessment procedures and will be monitored and supervised by staff at all times.

A number of the lowest-risk minimum security inmates who are approaching their release dates will also be employed on projects to benefit the local community, such as environmental remediation, beautification and community asset maintenance projects. These inmates will be subject to thorough clearance and assessment procedures and will be monitored and supervised by staff at all times.

Serco recognises that a range of different programs are required to meet the needs of the different inmate cohorts. The focus on reducing reoffending challenges us to have programs that reduce dependencies and addictions; build life skills; reactivates association with family and community; encourages education and work-readiness; and importantly, challenges the behaviours that led to reoffending in the first place.

Northern Pathway’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs and industries develop Inmates’ work ethos and employment skills, with programs focused on in-demand skills within the community. By fostering positive lifestyle changes, our Rehabilitation and Reintegration approach develops capable citizens, to facilitate successful community reintegration.

Northern Pathways have established relationships with a range of significant local non-government providers. These organisations bring a wealth of experience, talent and innovation to enhance Serco’s international experience. They will integrate local NGOs into case planning from the beginning of the Inmate journey to build case management and individual programs. On-site service delivery partners will ensure inmates can access reintegration services immediately upon their release.

These partners include:

  • Gurehlgam Corporation
  • Social Futures
  • North Coast Community Housing
  • Community Restorative Centre (CRC)
  • Country Regional Network
  • Ace Community College
  • North Coast TAFE
  • YMCA

Northern Pathways recognises the importance of Aboriginal people in the Grafton region. They will work with local Aboriginal groups and employer groups to identify opportunities and develop an employment and engagement strategy to ensure these opportunities are realised.

Health services will be provided through a specialist Health Centre at NGCC. This will deal with most of the clinical issues suffered by inmates. We recognise health and healthy lifestyles are important factors in the rehabilitation of inmates and will incorporate preventative programs to reduce the need for tertiary health services. Where tertiary services are required we will work closely with local hospitals and providers to manage the overall need for access.

By working with local services and managing resources there is unlikely to be any noticeable change in access to local services.