The History of the Community Restorative Centre

In 1951 the Controller-General of Prisons, Mr L C Nott recommended to the Minister of Justice that a representative prison after-care committee be established with the assistance of parole officers. This new organisation held its first meeting on November 15 and decided to call itself the Civil Rehabilitation Committee (CRC). CRC aimed to provide assistance for inmates in the period of transition from prison into the community. It helped with accommodation, employment and any other support needed by inmates.

The initial success of the committee raised the possibility of the establishment of other branches. The first CRC group established outside Sydney was in Newcastle. Between 1951 and 1966 other committees were established in Wollongong, Moss Vale, Tamworth, Bathurst, Cooma, Dubbo, Canberra and several suburban offices throughout Sydney. The early CRC volunteers had a mixed relationship with the department of corrections. Some within the department, such as Frank Hayes, were closely associated with the formation of the organisation whereas others were more derisive calling the volunteers “crim-lovers” and full of “baloney”.

In the 1960s Frank Hayes made the decision that the direct involvement of parole officers in CRC had to be reduced. Since 1963 CRC has become a non-government agency making it more autonomous from the department and self-directing in its work, although it remained funded through a government grant.

Over the last 65 years the services CRC provides have evolved and changed with many special projects being developed to address specific needs of our client base.

The acronym CRC has been kept but the organisation no longer calls itself the “Civil Rehabilitation Committee”. This change occurred because we thought referring to inmates as needing “civil rehabilitation” to be insensitive. Today the organisation is called the Community Restorative Centre.

In an obituary to Frank Hayes in 2000 Tony Vinson wrote “prisoners and their problems do not fall from the sky. They come from families, they live in neighbourhoods and they belong to communities”. Vinson listed the establishment of CRC as one of Hayes many achievements as it helped link prisoners back into the community. Over the years CRC has provided a vital service to inmates and their families and friends and grown and expanded since its formation in 1951.