Newcastle Community Corrections Unit Leader
22 years with Corrective Services NSW
Having worked for an organisation that helped people with a disability find employment, Louise Edwards decided she wanted to further her skills and work in a job that helped with people's personal and developmental needs.
The 59-year-old decided working in community corrections, with offenders to help reintegrate them into society, would provide that variety and diversity and is now a Unit Leader at Newcastle Community Corrections following stints at other offices and even a secondment to Indonesia.
Ms Edwards says her 22 years on the job has proven offender management can change people's lives.
"A few years ago, I had been working with an offender released on parole," Ms Edwards says.
"He had served time for violence-related offences. He was high risk, abandoned by his mum at a young age, had a brain injury from an accident and various other issues.
"He was resistant to change and had an issue of trust."
But Ms Edwards' job was to identify what were the causes of his offending behaviour and build a rapport with the offender. This would help her develop a case plan to ensure that there was a plan in assisting the offender in a positive reintegration, which included access to relevant housing, health and community services.
"There were instances he threatened to self-harm and I had to call in emergency services to deal with the issue," she says.
"He completed his parole without incident."
Ms Edwards' says community corrections officers face dangerous situations, particularly when offenders are under the influence of drugs or alcohol during interviews or home visits.
"Being calm and confident can turn around a situation," she says.
"Every day is a challenge but I love my job. Different people from a variety of backgrounds come to our office every day. Their journeys are unique and we're there to help them.
"I think some people believe community corrections officers are hard-edged, have no heart and want to throw people back into prison. Even a neighbour thought a home visit was a raid."
Outside of the community corrections office, Ms Edwards can be found entertaining friends and family with culinary delights.
Work for CSNSW