The NorthernPathways consortium has announced that they have been named preferred bidder for the New Grafton Correctional Centre (NGCC) project.

NorthernPathways is a consortium of four companies that are local and international leaders in their fields. The companies involved are:

  • Serco - a leading operator of correctional facilities in Australia, New Zealand and the UK;
  • John Holland - operating in Australia for over 60 years, is a Tier 1 Australian builder, and a recognised leader in the corrections sector;
  • John Laing - with an unsurpassed global track record as an independent investor and manager of PPP projects; and
  • Macquarie Capital - Australia's recognised financial advisory leader in infrastructure and PPP projects.

The state-of-the-art modern correctional facility will play a key role in the NSW justice system serving the northern part of the state, and will be the primary correctional complex for all corrections operations from the Queensland border in the north, Kempsey in the southeast, and Tamworth in the southwest.

CEO of Serco Australia Mark Irwin said the project would bring significant, long-term benefits to Grafton and the Northern Rivers.

"We are looking forward to working with the people and businesses, as well as community and not-for-profit organisations, in and around Grafton to build and operate this unique Centre as part of the community," Irwin said.

"Our goal is to shape the pathway of every inmate in our care to give them the best chance at becoming responsible citizens again. 

"We will do this in a humane and decent setting where inmates will undertake inclusive rehabilitation and reintegration programs, vocational education, and training focused on in-demand skills to prepare them for real work.

"We are privileged to be afforded this opportunity and are committed to making a positive difference through our work at the New Grafton Correctional Centre."

The project will create 1100 jobs during the construction phase, another 600 during operation, and is expected to boost the local economy by more than $560 million over 20 years.

According to John Holland CEO Joe Barr, they bring to the consortium the extensive experience they have had over the years, in terms of constructing correctional facilities in the country.

"We successfully delivered projects such as Cessnock Correctional Centre in NSW and Risdon Prison Complex in Tasmania, and we are also currently working on the 1000-bed Ravenhall Prison in Melbourne," Barr said.

"We will have training programs in places to recruit and train local people so they can get employment, not only in the construction phase, but in operations as well."

The NGCC will be made up of individual facilities, which will hold three different categories of inmates safely, securely and entirely separately.

The Centre will include a 1000-bed male maximum-security facility, a 300-bed female maximum security facility, and a 400-bed male minimum security facility.

Both the Centre itself and the programs that inmates will participate in are designed with the goal of reducing reoffending and making communities safer.

John Lang CEO Oliver Brousse says that they are glad that they have the opportunity to invest in this ambitious projects, but states that this project isn't only about delivering and maintaining a building.

"More importantly, it is about making a positive impact on people via rehabilitation programmes," Brousse adds.

"This project shows how private investors can commit to helping public authorities solve problems and improve the delivery of public services.

"We believe it's the future of public and private investment, and it is now under way at Grafton Prison."

Construction is due to commence in mid-2017, with the Centre expected to be operational sometime in 2020.