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Issued: Tuesday, 7 March 2017
With the support and encouragement of each other, a group of women has made Corrective Services NSW history by being the first all-female class to graduate as Custodial Officers.
Ahead of International Women's Day tomorrow (Wednesday 8 March), 24 women joined the ranks of the almost 3,000 female staff already working for CSNSW, after graduating from Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy on Friday.
The majority of the women will go on to work together at the new Mary Wade Correctional Centre at Lidcombe, in Western Sydney when it opens later in the year.
Minister for Corrections David Elliott welcomed the women into CSNSW saying it is great to have more females in this growing workforce.
"Although the corrections system is largely out of sight for most people, it's an important part of society. It's in many ways the foundation of the criminal justice system. As the custodians in that system, your role is vital," Mr Elliott said.
"We need more people like you. We want people who bring a variety of life experiences and career backgrounds to the roles."
Brush Farm Director, Learning and Culture Lauren Oliver said the way the women supported each other throughout the challenges of the course was admirable.
"The women displayed incredible teamwork skills that are essential in their roles as Correctional Officers," Ms Oliver said.
"With the efforts they showed throughout the course, I believe that they will make exceptional officers for the new maximum security women's centre."
Danielle Pinchas, Britt Curran and Jaclyn Bowcock were among the class of new graduates who were determined to break gender barriers and the misconception that it's a job for men.
Ms Pinchas previously worked as an airline customer service representative.
"When we entered the academy a lot of people expected us to drop out, but we really pushed each other to keep going and show them that women can do it," she said.
"Being a correctional officer is a physically and emotionally draining job, but I'm prepared to take on that challenge."
The new officers, aged between 21 and 53, undertook 10 weeks of intensive training provided by Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy in Sydney.
As part of their training, the women participated in simulated search and emergency response exercises, weapons training, and learned key legislation, policies and procedures.
They come from a variety of backgrounds, including hospitality, retail and property management.
Ms Curran, a university student, said women should not be discouraged from entering the profession.
"I'd tell women to 100 per cent do it – people think being a correctional officer is a man's job but being a woman doesn't have an impact on how well we do the job at all," the 23-year-old said.
The women will enter the workforce with a Certificate III in Correctional Practice and were specifically placed in a class together so they could get to know one another before working at the new centre.