Keelen Mailman Photo Andrew Messenger / Western Times
Keelen Mailman Photo Andrew Messenger / Western Times Andrew Messenger

Mt Tabor aims to heal 30 low level prisoners in camp

KEELEN Mailman has long had a dream: building a healing centre on the first cattle property owned and run by an indigenous woman.

Now she wants to heal criminals.

She plans to build a centre for 30 low level criminals on Mount Tabor property two hours out of Augathella.

The facility would would boast an intensive rehabilitation program, aimed at reducing recidivism by addressing drug abuse and other psychological problems.

It’s part of a statewide plan for a network of rural and remote private jails to house and rehabilitate Australia’s least hardened criminals outside traditional sardine-can jails.

Keith Hamburger, former director general of correctional services, is leading the push.

He said the model was almost like a medical clinic, treating crime like a disease.

“You could describe it as that yeah,” he said.

“We’ll certainly be looking at health problems, and these people certainly have health problems.”

He said the facility would create around 40 jobs, including several opportunities in Charleville and Augathella.

“It will be a regional solution – rather than sending them off to Brisbane and all the money going there,” he said.

They still need government approval for the project, but hope to have it up and running in January next year.

Most of the prisoners would be local, young and largely guilty of minor drug or theft offences, without violence.

At the first public consultation for the proposal, neighbouring farmers raised concerns about the possibility of escape.

One farmer wondered whether it was a problem the closest police were two hours away from the jail.

Keith said all prisoners would wear tracking bracelets.

Several said it was the first time they heard of it.

Keelen Mailman argued her healing centre plan had long been on the public record.

“Don’t you want to heal people?” she asked.

Murweh shire facilitated the consultation meeting, but still sits on the fence about the proposal.

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