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SA prisoners help restore conservation parks -

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Emma Alberici. That report from finance editor being used in chain gangs The idea of prisoners is nothing new to this country. of modern Australia After all, the foundations were built by convict labour. But in South Australia, albeit in a slightly modified way. the tradition continues inmates from Port Augusta prison For a decade now, of the state have been used in remote areas conservation parks. to rebuild and restore for prisoners The camps also offer a chance to prove they're ready for parole. their biggest challenges yet - But now the workers face one of former pastoral lease the restoration of a degraded of the state's outback. in the middle of a hostile part Mike Sexton reports.

If you are driving between Adelaide

and Broken Hill and you blink,

you'll miss Olary. Not surprising,

really, with a population of eight

it isn't much more than a pub and a

few cor gitted iron shacks. But

these days Olary is the entry point

to South Australia's newest

conservation park - 75,000 hectares

of rugged outback known as

Bimbowrie. Granite dopes that rise

out of this landscape combined with

the tree-lined water courses,

particularly the red gum water

courses and the threatened species,

the yellow-footed rock wallaby is

very significant. Bimbowrie was

one of the state's largest sheep very significant. Bimbowrie was once

stations. One year, 75,000 sheep

were shorn here and 200 men worked

in this shearing shed, but the

years have passed and last year the in this shearing shed, but the glory

South Australian Government brought

the property and set about

the country that's been degraded by the property and set about restoring

introduced animals and trees.

In some areas they're so thick

they're actually strangling the

native vegetation from recovery.

Now with the sheep, rabbits and

gone, plus good winter rainfall, Now with the sheep, rabbits and gets

Bimbowrie is freshening up. The

Conservation Department is

to take advantage of the change in Conservation Department is desperate

fortunes by clearing the invase #i6

plants. But the department's

was finding workers willing to come plants. But the department's problem

out to such a remote location to

sweat under the outback sun. The

answer to their cry from help has

come from the big house. We've

bought a MOW camp with low security

prisoners into the area to do some

of the manual labour-intensive

tasks. These in-mates from Port

Augusta jail are spending two weeks

at a time removing hundreds of

trees, pulling weeds, removing old

fences and water courses and

restoring the heritage listed

buildings. Is it hard work? It can buildings. Is it hard work? It can

be at times, yeah. Sometimes it's

very hard. Some of that moving of

the - or pulling up of the piping

was, yeah, pretty back-breaking.

know, it's good. How much better is was, yeah, pretty back-breaking. You

it than being inside? (Laughs). A

million times better. There's nokm

parson. It's pretty good. We get to

come out here away from everyone

it's a good way to do your time. come out here away from everyone and

Dave Maleckas is nearing the end of

his stretch and is such an

enthusiastic worker that even

sometimes his pants have trouble

keeping up with him. This is his

third trip to Bimbowrie and he's rt

r starting to see a difference.

When I first came up here there was

a lot of weeds and stuff like that

growing around and in the last

couple of camps weve been here,

we've problem by cleared # 0% of

them weeds and stuff. In the two

weeks that we're gone and come back

up, they always sprout back up

quicker than I've even noticed and,

yeah, we are eventually getting the

place up pretty good, I reckon.

Similar camps operate across South

Australia and soon an inter

Australia and soon an

intergovernmental agreement will

make them a permanent workforce tor

the government. It isn't only these

parts that benefit. A work camp

helped clean up after the

devastating bushfires on the Eyre

Peninsula. What was the reaction of

locals to the work you were doing?

Great. Every couple of days we had

different person coming up, giving Great. Every couple of days we had a

us a can of Coke, or something like

that, icy pole, stuff like that

to say thanks and we're doing a that, icy pole, stuff like that just

job. For the department of to say thanks and we're doing a good

environment and heritage, the free

labour is an enormous saving and

mens the project for bin Laden can

be fast-tracked. For the workers,

the camp has other benefits like

discipline and fitness and it mayly

a better chance of adjusting to the

outside world. In my own case I had

been sitting around not dough much,

sitting around on the dole, and

getting pretty lazy and I have no

intention of doing that when I get

out. So, the idea of getting into

work, the work ethic is a really

good thing. There was a study done

into the reoffending and we had a

very good success rate with

reoffending. As the camp draw to a

close, the men made a chance

discovery of a fraj Jill Sturt

Desert pea growing on one of the

tracks. It's the most spectacular

sign yet that their hard work is

paying off with the original bush

Bimbowrie reyou've Nating by their paying off with the original bush of

self-esteem. Makes me feel like a

better person and to help out other

communities that really need the

help, too. That's a good felling,

too. - feeling, too.