A place for me to share, entertain, vent and discuss.

After debating with myself on what my first blog should be about, a major change in my life this week has given me my subject matter.
Yesterday I left my place of employment for the final time after ten and a half years, as I have accepted employment elsewhere in a quite different environment.
In April 2001, at the age of 40, I began my recent career as a correctional officer. My family was shocked at this career move as I had always worked in the retail and hospitality industries. I was a little stunned myself, but also quite excited by this new job. Over the ensuing ten years I have learned a lot about myself and about human nature, both in regards to fellow officers and about offenders and offending behaviours. I have grown as a person in many positive ways. I am more skilled in dealing with people, a better communicator; I have a greater awareness of, and compassion for, differing cultures, and a greater understanding of mental health issues.
The correctional environment can be challenging, especially mentally and emotionally. There are inherent risks involved when dealing with certain offenders and a constant awareness of ones surroundings is vital. The ability to communicate effectively and form professional working relationships with people from a wide range of backgrounds is paramount to being a good officer. I have always been a ‘people person’, so my new job suited me very well. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to make a difference in people’s lives, especially young offenders, helping to reduce recidivism rates and making the community safer. At times it was frustrating, as there are many limitations in the correctional system, and media focus is rarely positive. But there are good news stories, with many offenders making the best of their situation and taking every opportunity to gain further education or vocational training, increasing their chances of employment upon release and in turn lessening their chances of re-offending and returning to prison.
The most valued part of my time working in a prison was the relationships I built with fellow officers. Spending twelve hours a day at work, the workplace became a home away from home and our colleagues a quasi-family. We knew each other very well, could share our black humour with each other, and relax together outside of work. There were very few days where we did not share a good laugh with each other. It is those days that I will miss. The last five years were spent mentoring, training and supporting staff with their case management duties. I was able to share my vision and passion about assisting offenders to stop their offending behaviours and go home as more productive members of society. Not everyone shared that passion!
My new employment is in an administrative role with the Australian Public Service. I hope to learn the role quickly and am looking forward to new challenges. I am moving from a role where I had a lot of industry knowledge and ability, to one where I am the new kid on the block; from a workplace where I knew everyone, to one where most people are strangers to me. I am sure I will gain the skills required in good time and I will make new friends amongst my new colleagues. I am moving out of my comfort zone, however, ‘A change is as good as a holiday’ so they say. I will soon find a new comfort zone.


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