Tradies, hairdressers and former police officers will soon join the prison officer ranks after graduating from the Corrective Services NSW Academy in Tomago on Tuesday.
In front of the Minister for Corrections David Elliott, 27 trainees graduated from the academy and will now move into roles as custodial officers and trade overseers in prisons and courts in the Hunter and across NSW.
“I’m thrilled we’ve had such a great take up,” Mr Elliott said. “I’m delighted to see so many women seek corrections as a career path for them and I’m also delighted they’ve come from such a variety of backgrounds.”
Mr Elliott said a majority of the 27 graduates would work at Cessnock Correctional Centre. Of those graduates, 25 will be employed casually.
Trainee Purdy Mitford-Burgess graduated top of her class and was recognised with an award during Tuesday’s ceremony, presented to her by Mr Elliott.
“This whole course was out of my comfort zone,” she said. “It was challenging physically and mentally. I’ve challenged myself to do these things so to graduate top of the class is a huge achievement for me.”
Ms Mitford-Burgess will become a correctional officer in Cooma.
For university student Chanel Van Rooyen, becoming a correctional officer is a pathway to pursue a career in the justice department.
The Armidale woman holds a degree in criminology and is in her third year of law.
“The correctional officer job came up and I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to get me started on the pathway I want to follow,” she said.
Ms Van Rooyen will now work as a correctional officer in Tamworth court.
Mr Elliott said by providing training in the fast growing Hunter region, the NSW Government can provide more attractive employment opportunities in the area.
“The Tomago academy gives Hunter locals the opportunity to skill up without leaving their community,” he said.
Nine custodial training courses have been completed at the Tomago academy since the July 2016. Trainees graduate with a Certificate III in Correctional Practice which includes lessons in law and procedure, simulated scenario assessment and placement at a correctional centre.
Mr Elliott also visited CIA Precast, a Tomago business that was sub-contracted by Richard Crookes Construction to produce precast perimeter walls for the new 330-bed expansion at Cessnock Correction Centre.
“We have a strong record of delivering jobs in regional NSW and are committed to putting local business first to ensure the community reaps the economic benefits,” Mr Elliott said.