Community Corrections Unit Leader, HurstvilleFive years with Corrective Services NSW
For Hurstville Community Corrections Unit Leader Jaemi Templeton a simple “thank you” can make one of the most challenging jobs also one of the most rewarding.
It doesn’t matter whether it comes from a hardened criminal or a first year Community Corrections officer – Ms Templeton always finds helping others worthwhile.
She is among 1,400 of CSNSW’s Community Corrections officers and more than 8,000 total staff to be celebrated as part of the country’s first annual National Corrections Day.
“One of the most memorable moments in my career involved a long-time offender thanking me because I was the first person to treat him like a person, not an offender,” she says.
“For the first time in 20 years he completed his parole order without it being revoked, and thanked me for my perseverance in making him address his mental health and drug issues.
“It was amazing to be part of his transformation from a hardened ‘what’s the point’ criminal, to an ‘I can do this’ free man.”
Those two words spur Ms Templeton on in what is often a difficult role, managing offenders as they readjust to life in the community without committing crimes.
Success is often difficult to measure – sometimes it can mean not reoffending at all, not reoffending for months, or even committing a less-serious crime.
Ms Templeton says the key to their improvement is to treat offenders just like anyone.
“Offenders are just like every other person you meet on the street – they come in all different personality types,” she says.
“Some have had traumatic upbringings, others have had privileged upbringings.
“They are like you and me – except that they have made poor choices in life that require support, to help get them back to a positive lifestyle.”
In her role, the 34-year-old supervises a team of Community Corrections officers, including high-risk and challenging offenders.
She wants to share her pride and enthusiasm for her job not only with her team, but with the wider community.
“Both custodial and community officers help rehabilitate offenders, and in turn, make the community a safer place,” she says.
“I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I do, and I think it’s important to show the community our dedication and passion for rehabilitating offenders and keeping the community safe.”
Community Corrections officers work intensely with offenders once they are released from custody on parole, or are serving community based orders, to provide them with professional case management and supervision in the community.
Evidence shows that supervision combined with rehabilitation is the most effective way of reducing reoffending.
Under new laws to strengthen sentencing options and enable smarter management of parolees, more offenders will be subject to supervision by Community Corrections officers.
The new laws are part of a package of reforms being rolled out by the middle of next year to reduce reoffending, improve community safety and support victims.