Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice. Find out more >
Chief Correctional Officer
16 years at Corrective Services NSW
At 21, Emma Smith had spent the previous two years studying a degree in nursing then applied chemistry but she wasn't enjoying it.
She thought about becoming a teacher, before her mum suggested she apply for a job as a prison officer.
The former Sydneysider took her mum's advice and has worked at the Wellington Correctional Centre for the past nine years, where she has risen through the ranks and is now a Chief Correctional Officer.
"The job has truly brought out a better side of me. I can speak up and say something for myself," Ms Smith says.
"I was quiet and reserved when I was younger but you develop a lot of communication skills on the job."
Ms Smith says her journey has proven that the job is definitely for women.
"The job relies on good communication skills and the ability to communicate effectively," she says.
"There are incidents that happen, such as assaults, and you look back and think that could have been much worse, if it weren't for such great team work and training.
"But communicating your message to the inmates properly can resolve an incident before it even happens.
"Demeanour is very important and also the ability to relate to people, regardless of background or life experiences.
"Case management, determining the inmates' needs and referring them to the relevant services and programs is all part of the rehabilitation process."
Ms Smith has worked at John Morony Correctional Complex at Windsor, the Downing Centre Court Complex in Central Sydney, Oberon Correctional Centre and Mid North Coast Correctional Centre in a variety of different roles, from training to intelligence.
"I was part of the team that set-up the Wellington Correctional Centre in 2007 and assisted in the training of the new probationary correctional officers when they started at the centre," she says.
Ms Smith has enjoyed the move to the Central West.
"The work team is amazing. The people I work with make the job but I also enjoy the regional lifestyle, living on a large property with my family and dogs."
"The added bonus is that there's no traffic like in Sydney."
Work for CSNSW