15 years with Corrective Services NSW
When Petrina Hooker left the Australian Defence Force after many years of service, little did she know she would be putting on another uniform so soon.
Fresh out of the job and needing a change of pace, Ms Hooker turned to Corrective Services NSW for a new career.
"I needed a change because I knew there was something else out there for me," the 47-year-old says.
"Corrective Services seemed like a good fit – it was another government job and it had a uniform – but it wasn't something I had thought about before that point.
"Nobody grows up wanting to be a correctional officer because nobody knows what it's like until after they go behind those walls."
Fast-forward 15 years and Ms Hooker can't picture life without her "family of blue".
She says it helps to feel supported through the tougher moments in the job, such as dealing with unpredictable or violent offenders.
"The good thing about this job is that we all support one another," she says.
"If something difficult comes up it's good to know that you can lean on the people you work with because it's often hard to describe to someone on the outside the different things that go on."
Ms Hooker – who works at Grafton Correctional Centre – hopes the advent of Corrections Day helps better inform the community about the realities of prison life.
"One of the biggest misconceptions about the job is that everybody in prison is a bad person," she says.
"When you meet people or you're at a dinner party, most of them think that everybody is prison is dangerous when it's really a minority that give us our problems.
"Some people have just made a mistake or taken a bad turn."
Neither are correctional officers the cold, hardened characters seen on TV, she says.
"We try every day to build a good rapport with our inmates and hopefully that will make their time pass a little easier too."
Work for CSNSW