LITHGOW CSI PARTNERSHIP

Since 2019, Mount Vic and Me® has worked with Corrective Services Industries (CSI), the commercial arm of Corrective Services NSW. This ongoing partnership has allowed us to grow while assisting CSI with the rehabilitation aspect of its program. Having inmates working across a diverse range of industries, including everything from textiles and print services to technology and engineering, helps to ensure Corrective Services NSW remains self-sustainable.

Here Kara answers some frequently asked questions about the partnership.

How did your partnership with Lithgow CSI come about?

Initially it was all about convenience. Our tea-towel range started taking off and I quickly realised it wasn’t viable for me to hem each piece myself or to outsource to just one or two people. In order to focus on other areas of the business, and to see it grow, I needed a small team of workers and I ideally needed them to be in close proximity.

A friend who had worked in Corrective Services pointed me in the direction of Lithgow CSI and the partnership progressed quickly from there. I was hesitant at first but Mount Vic and Me has a strong commitment to social enterprise and I believe in providing opportunities to people seeking rehabilitation, so the partnership fits in with this ethos.

Who actually does your work?

The male inmates help with my weekly production. This is primarily because the women who find themselves in Corrective Services tend to have lesser sentences than the men, so there generally isn’t enough time to train them up. The goal is to give the men new skills, income and a routine, all of which assist with rehabilitation.

The men work on my tea towel and cushion ranges. They do the cutting, hemming, quality control, folding and packaging. They also mark up anything with errors, check each other’s work and produce a high-volume turnover.

Have you observed any direct benefits to the men who work on your products?

I’ve heard from Lithgow CSI that the men have developed a supportive way of working together, and the men have mentioned to me directly how exciting it is to be involved in the growth of my business – they can tell by the increase in their workload that everything is moving along.

The work the men do for me is impeccable and they clearly take pride in doing a great job. Gaining these type of work skills obviously enhances future employment opportunities and helps with successful reintegration into the community.

Would you recommend that other small businesses utilise CSI’s services?

Definitely. My own experience has been extremely positive. In the Blue Mountains, and across many other regional centres, there is a lack of local manufacturing in the textiles industry. For Mount Vic and Me, Lithgow CSI has filled the gap and helps us to proudly carry the Australian Made Campaign logo on our products.

You can find out more about CSI at https://www.csi.nsw.gov.au/

Photos: Corrective Services New South Wales