Issued: 29 August 2016
Being a correctional officer in Corrective Services NSW prisons includes 12-hour shifts, dealing with some of the state's worst criminals and being part of a close-knit team.
Two new recruits, who graduated from Bathurst Correctional Centre on Friday, feel they're up to the task.
Rachelle Gilmore, 26, and Nathan Holland, 30, both from the state's Central West, have spent the past 10 weeks undergoing intensive training to become correctional officers.
The pair are among a group of 25 people, from a range of backgrounds including the army, retail, hair dressing and finance, who graduated yesterday at Bathurst Correctional Centre. They join the more than 4,000 correctional officers employed by Corrective Services NSW.
Both had jobs in a variety of industries before but felt they weren't getting the career satisfaction they needed.
"I wanted to get into helping people," Mr Holland, a father of two from South Bathurst said.
"I'm a qualified youth worker with a young family but there's not much money in youth work if you don't have a university degree.
"I also looked at joining the army, but friends who work for Corrective Services NSW told me it was an absolutely wonderful job, so I wish I'd joined earlier."
Ms Gilmore, from Black Springs, has two children and wanted to find better job prospects to support them.
"Corrections is a good stable career, with lots of avenues to try," Ms Gilmore said.
"The people I know, who first seeded the idea with me, come from a range of backgrounds. I was working in hospitality and they said I had the right personality and attitude for the job."
The Certificate III in Correctional Practice includes lessons in law and procedure, online learning and assessment, simulated scenario assessment and correctional centre placement.
"It was a full-on 10 weeks and there was a lot to learn in that time, but our trainers were excellent," Ms Gilmore said.
"I did work placement at Bathurst Correctional Centre for four days and it allowed me to see the different sections of the prison and all my training came together.
"We also did two weeks with the Special Operations Group (SOG) in Lithgow – that included self-defence, riot training, baton training and weapons training – it was really fun."
Mr Holland also "loved the training" and wouldn't mind working in the SOG.
"I loved the training at SOG, doing push-ups and sit-ups in the mud. It brings everyone together and the instructors do team-building exercises," Mr Holland said.
"We also had to get tear-gassed so that we know how to clean out our gas masks to operate effectively.
"I would love to work in SOG, which handles any riots or violent incidents, but honestly I would love to work in every single prison environment to see how everything works together – there are so many options."
Mr Holland acknowledged that the "somewhat challenging" career wasn't for everyone – of the 30 people who originally applied and undertook training, five dropped out.
Ms Gilmore agreed: "You really take out of training with what you put into it. If you put in the effort, you'll get the rewards."