Palen Creek corrective services officer earns Premier's Award

BUSH TUCKER: Inmates at the Palen Creek Correctional Centre are growing native fruits in their orchard. Photo: Corrective Services department.
BUSH TUCKER: Inmates at the Palen Creek Correctional Centre are growing native fruits in their orchard. Photo: Corrective Services department.

QUEENSLAND Corrective Services officer Russell Stanford has taken out the Premiers Award for Excellence in Sustainability for the Palen Creek Correctional Centres Australian Native Foods Orchard.

Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan congratulated Mr Russell, who researched, sourced and established the orchard with the aid of Indigenous prisoners and the approval of the Brisbane elders.

The aim of this project was to develop cultural awareness, gain a deeper knowledge about Indigenous foods and develop sustainable environmental practices, he said.

These native foods are high in nutritional density, have high levels of protein fibre and micronutrients and have sustained Aboriginal people for thousands of years.

Mr Russell said he was keen to show how projects such as the orchard were the best approach to conservation.

The key to saving the worlds rainforests is using indigenous knowledge to plant native crops.

Its critical that we learn everything we can from Indigenous elders about the flora that existed in Australia long before European settlement.

The key to success is also proving that these crops can pay for themselves, that we can sustainably harvest the rainforest instead of chopping everything down.

We have shown we can produce foods commercially and sell them at market. We are the only farm in Queensland producing Kakadu plums.

Mr Ryan said the Palen Creek farm crops had attracted interest from overseas buyers.

In an innovative and unique project, the centre is also growing Australian native Gumbi Gumbi trees for the Chinese herbal market.

The leaves of the Gumbi Gumbi tree were used by the Aboriginal people as medicine.

By doing this, the centre is combining two ancient cultures to treat illness using Australian native plants and Indigenous knowledge in a sustainable way.

Russells work is just one example of the wide range of innovative and exciting work being done across QCS and Id like to offer my sincere thanks for his work and commitment to establishing the orchard, and congratulate him on his award, he said.

Mr Ryan said it was important to recognise that Corrective Services officers spent their daily lives in one of the most complex and challenging workplaces imaginable.

Our dedicated Corrective Services officers do their important work away from the spotlight and away from public scrutiny so their efforts often go unnoticed.

Awards like the one Russell has won demonstrate the professionalism and passion that drives our QCS staff.