Cream of the crop with Cadell prison’s new dairy

A new $12 million dairy complex at the Cadell Training Centre in the Riverland has been named after the prison’s longest serving general manager.

Jun 13, 2024, updated Jun 13, 2024
Inmates at the Cadell Training Centre milk about 110 cows each day. Photo: Christine Webster

Inmates at the Cadell Training Centre milk about 110 cows each day. Photo: Christine Webster

Opened in May, the David Oates ACM Dairy is named after the former official who passed away in 2021 after two years of battling illness.

Oates, who retired in 2020, spent 11 years in the role and worked for the Correctional Services Department for 35 years.

He had lobbied for many years to have the prison’s 1960s dairy facility upgraded.

The $12.2m dairy complex at the Cadell Training Centre was built by SA company Mossop Construction + Interiors with the help of 18 inmates. Photo: Brad Griffin, Department of Correctional Services.

The old building has now been demolished and replaced with the new complex, which took about 14 months to complete and started operating in January.

The prison currently has a herd of 290 dairy cattle and milks 110 cows each day, producing an average of 1800 to 1900 litres of raw milk per day and 900 kilograms of cream per week.

An official opening and plaque unveiling at the dairy complex was held on May 21, attended by Oates’ wife Joanne and their children, along with Correctional Services Minister Dan Cregan and Chaffey MP Tim Whetstone.

Whetstone helped secure funding for the dairy complex under the former Liberal government.

Correctional Services Department chief executive David Brown said the dairy complex is a testament to Oates’ commitment to prisoner rehabilitation and reducing reoffending.

Oates followed his father’s footsteps into a career in corrections and the role of Cadell Training Centre manager.

His two sons Aaron and Nathan are also prison officers at the centre.

The dairy project and its operations have so far involved more than 40 inmates.

SA company Mossop Construction + Interiors built the complex with 18 prisoners assisting, using skills they learned in the classroom as part of their Certificate II in Pathways to Construction.

Prisoners contributed a total of 9800 working hours towards the facility’s construction.

The project led to one inmates due to complete his sentence at Cadell Training Centre in June being offered a welding apprenticeship.

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SA’s Fleurieu Milk Company also had input into the facility.

Cadell Training Centre industries officer Marcus Wills said about 30 prisoners work at the dairy, tending to cows in the field, milking and working in the processing room, and enjoy their responsibilities.

“They love it and have taken total ownership and are really protective of their positions, as they enjoy being a part of the operations,” he said.

Wills said the dairy’s milk and cream are in high demand and it supplies Adelaide Women’s Prison, Mobilong Prison and Port Augusta Prison.

It also distributes excess raw product to SA businesses such as the Barossa Cheese Company and La Casa Del Formaggio for cheese and cream manufacture and donates milk to the Hutt Street Centre in Adelaide and the Rotary Club of Waikerie.

Wills said working at the dairy helps inmates visualise potential job opportunities.

“There is a demand for milkers and processors and jobs in animal husbandry,” he said.

Cadell Training Centre is also well known for training its inmates in growing citrus and olive oil production.

The prisoners also make a valuable contribution to the local CFS by helping fight fires and assisted the community protect their assets and clean up during the 2022/2023 River Murray flood.

They are involved in a wide range of community projects including the care and maintenance of local cemeteries.

Wills said the low-security prison is hopefully the final stage of an inmate’s prison sentence.

“They all start at the remand centre or go to Yatala, and they will slowly move their way through the system,” he said.

“If they end up with us at Cadell, we are their last step before they get out.

“So, we are their last chance to make sure they are ready to go home and not come back again.”

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