Probus hears about life as an old Adelaide Gaol officer

Probus hears about life as an old Adelaide Gaol officer

Adelaide Gaol life spoken about

The Port of Goolwa Mixed Probus' monthly meeting was on Monday, October 27 due to the usual regular meeting date falling on a public holiday.

President Barbara Edwards welcomed members.

The guest speaker was Geoff Cann, who held a position as prison officer at the Adelaide Gaol, after initial training as a probationary officer in 1966.

He said how the system was stricter for both staff and prisoners when he started than when he resigned in 1985, and he saw many changes whilst there.

The Adelaide Goal was built in 1841; it housed about 300,000 prisoners during its 147 years of operation until it closed in 1988, and is known as the longest continuously operating prison in Australia.

It is one of the two oldest remaining public buildings in South Australia - the other is Government House, which was built at the same time as the Gaol.

Various additions and modifications were made to the Gaol throughout its working life.

From 1849 to 1969, yard 2 was regarded as the women's section, but they were then transferred to the Northfield Women's Rehabilitation Centre and the Adelaide Gaol became an all-male facility.

The cells contained a bed, mattress, blankets, sheets and a pillow, plus a metal bedside locker, wooden stool, metal jug for water and pannikin for hot tea.

They were allowed no more than three books from the library and a Bible, and a radio was attached to the wall with an on and off switch usually tuned to 5 KA by popular choice.

In the late 1970s prison canteens were introduced thoughout the state where remand prisoners could use private funds to purchase items for their personal use from their earnings.

Earnings had increased from 10 cents a day when Geoff started to anything up to $5 to $10 per day, depending on their allocated work; boiler attendants, bakers and cooks were generally highest paid.

In the early 1970s there was a move to close Glenside and move clients into the community rather than institutionalising them.

This was not a success as many clients were then detained in prisons when they could no cope in the community.

There were not enough case officers to service the clients and the prison officers were not trained to deal with patients that exhibit psychological and behavioural issues that still exist. Drug use was also a serious issue for correctional.

In the many hours Geoff spent at the Adelaide Gaol he never encountered any paranormal experiences, although some officers said they witnessed ghostly sights.

There is still popular ghost tours to the Adelaide Gaol.

In 1985 Geoff resigned, leaving a lasting legacy after his many years there.

Geoff was given a gift of appreciation for his interesting talk.

The club's next meeting will be held on Monday, November 1 at 10am at the Goolwa Hotel. Visitors welcome.