Justice Chaplaincy

Cessnock Correctional Centre
Chaplaincy. Reverend Di Langham.

29 June 2015

This is my thirteenth year ministering to Cessnock. There have been a lot of changes since I first began. We are now a much larger centre with close to 850 inmates from all over the state of NSW. We have a maximum security centre of around 280 inmates and the rest are minimum security. Our gaol at this point in time is the largest gaol outside the metropolitan area. There are around 30 gaols in NSW. Most of my ministry is on the minimum side and Koorie ministry over the whole gaol. Around a third of the gaol is Aboriginal. The average age of our young men is around 25 years of age.

We have a greater number of staff except in chaplaincy where we still have only two full-time chaplains (Salvation Army and Anglican). So although there are double the inmates chaplaincy has not been funded to service the needs of the greater population and staff.

I continue to coordinate multi-faith ministries for residents, which includes Buddhist, Muslim and Christian. The Christian groups are made up of Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical and Anglican.

There is worship happening five days a week.

My chaplaincy I believe is a ministry of “being there”.

As in previous years I coordinate NAIDOC week, Muslim Eids, Buddhist festivals and Islander festivals.

I present programs including Fathering programs, Seasons for Growth (grief and loss) and Positive Lifestyles Programs.

Chaplaincy provides clothing for inmates who are being released or attending courts. We do this through the Salvation Army. Many of our residents do not have clothing that fits them after being in custody for a period of time!

Kairos continues to minister in the gaol. Our next Kairos will be in October 2015. It is a great time for the 24 inmates who attend but is a lot of work in preparation and follow up.

I have been trained to run Alpha in Prisons and will be looking at running that shortly in Cessnock.

I continue to be a speaker for community groups, including Probus, Rotary and Auxiliaries both Hospital and Churches.

I am continuing ministry in an area that most of society is happy to not know about. Lock them up! The only thing that society does not take into account is that one day these guys will be released. The majority of them will be angrier and in more need of help and compassion than when they were incarcerated. My chaplaincy I believe is a ministry of “being there”.  I am Auntie Di to these young men and sometimes I have the privilege of hearing their story. In all the tragedy and misery I am always able to see the chink of “Christ Light” in them. God says “A smoldering wick I will not snuff out”. My job is to fan the embers, where I can.