Offenders remove tonnes of rubbish from Georges River catchment

Important job: Keeping the Georges River catchment clean improves the environment and ecosystem.
Important job: Keeping the Georges River catchment clean improves the environment and ecosystem.

Every week, Community Corrections officers and offenders spend hours working hard to clear rubbish from the important Georges River catchment area.

Areas along the catchment from Botany Bay in the north to Campbelltown in the south welcome folks completing court-mandated community service several days a week.

Melanie Munright from Community Corrections said Campbelltown was an important part of the program.

"We bus out 11 clients and the driver from Liverpool to Campbelltown four days a week," she said.

"This program has been running for several years and will be ongoing as long as there's rubbish in the river."

The offenders remove hundreds of tonnes of rubbish, including used gas bottles, drink cans and plastic bags. Three supervised groups return more than 1000 hours of work in 200 sites across the catchment area each week.

Community Corrections Sydney South West director Kate Byrne said the rubbish removal program gave offenders the opportunity to develop a social conscience while helping the community and the environment.

Hard at work: Offenders ensure the waterways are kept clean as part of their community service work. Pictures: Community Corrections

Hard at work: Offenders ensure the waterways are kept clean as part of their community service work. Pictures: Community Corrections

"We've had a strong partnership over the past six years with volunteer organisation Georges Riverkeeper which works to protect the health of the waterways," Ms Byrne said. "During that time our teams have removed more than 630 tonnes of rubbish from litter hotspots.

"These offenders are making a valuable contribution to the community by performing work that wouldn't otherwise be done and removing bagfuls of rubbish from the river and its surrounds."

The litter hotspots are known for collecting rubbish in mangrove forests, saltmarshes and reed beds.

Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts said helping not-for-profit organisations strengthened offenders' ties with their communities and increased their chances of successful reintegration.

"The NSW government has committed $330 million to reducing reoffending and the work of our Community Corrections staff is vital to that," Mr Roberts said.

"This work is improving the quality of these waterways - and that's a really positive thing for these offenders to achieve, knowing that they're giving something back to the environment and their community."

Georges Riverkeeper manager Beth Salt said the removal of rubbish helped protect vital ecological communities and restore the functions of a healthy river.

"Partnering with Corrective Services allows us to have a much greater impact on the health of the river, specifically on the amount of gross pollutants within the river system," she said.