Overseer, Mannus Correctional Centre18 months with Corrective Services NSW
Corrective Services Industries Overseer Jennifer Peattie is so keen to learn more about her trade, she doesn’t even mind taking tips and advice from inmates – but only when it’s farming related.
The 29-year-old joined Corrective Services NSW 18 months ago to work as an overseer, sharing her skills in agriculture and farming with the minimum-security inmates at Mannus Correctional Centre in the Riverina.
“Sometimes you get inmates that come in and all they have done is farming, so if they have a lot of experience, you can even learn from them,” Ms Peattie says.
Ms Peattie is among the more than 9,000 Corrective Services NSW staff being celebrated for their commitment to community safety on National Corrections Day, Friday 18 January. CSNSW staff includes custodial officers, inmate services and programs staff, psychologists and parole officers.
Ms Peattie had worked in farms from the Mid North Coast to Moree and Wollongong, in beef cattle, sheep, cotton processing and more, when she decided to embark on a new adventure at the prison at Mannus, which farms apples, beef and sheep.
“Some days it’s challenging, but it’s mostly rewarding because I’m diversifying my skills in agriculture and having new experiences – every day you learn something new,” she says.
“I’m quite open to options and learning about different farming procedures, and I also try to make the inmates feel that they are making decisions – it’s not my way or the highway – let’s just see how we can do the job best.
“I also feel that in order to build a working relationship with inmates you need to treat them right and they are going to be more productive.
“I also think that if we teach them some skills or a trade it will help them to integrate back into society, instead of blaming prison staff and creating resentment.”
There is a large variety of courses at Mannus, including workplace safety, automotive-mechanical, small motors, forestry and sawmilling, transport and distribution warehousing, as well as apprenticeships and traineeships in agriculture, kitchen operations, afforestation, business, chainsaws, first aid, chemical handling and logistics and warehousing.
The 2019 National Corrections Day theme is Working Corrections, focussing on inmate industries and the work of Community Corrections officers, who supervise offenders on court-ordered community work.
Across the state, there are about 650 Corrective Services Industries’ staff, who oversee inmates undertaking work, training and other qualifications to help reintegrate them into the community and reduce reoffending.