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Correctional Officer, Tamworth Correctional CentreAlmost two years with Corrective Services NSW
For hairdresser-turned-correctional officer and busy mother-of-five, Mandy Porter, no two days are ever the same.
Whether she is shuttling kids to sporting commitments or dealing with a volatile offender at work – her busy life can take an unexpected turn at any minute.
It is a vast change of pace from her former career as a hairdresser, but one she quickly became accustomed to after an eventful first shift at Tamworth Correctional Centre.
“I went to investigate a deep thudding noise coming from a segregation cell and I found the inmate driving his forehead in the door – he was on day five, withdrawing from alcohol,” Ms Porter explains.
“There was a lot of blood and he made an absolute mess of his head, so I was on hospital escort for the rest of my shift.
“I learned very quickly that there was no such thing as a ‘typical’ shift - it can change in the blink of an eye - but it is one of the reasons I love my job.”
Ms Porter is among 5,140 of Corrective Services NSW’s custodial officers, services and programs staff and psychologists - and more than 8,000 total staff - to be celebrated as part of the country’s first annual National Corrections Day.
While Ms Porter’s partner has been with Corrective Services NSW for 28 years, it was only recently that the former hairdresser and nursing student decided to follow suit.
The decision was met with good humour from friends, who readily supported her decision once they realised she was serious.
She has since been commended for many aspects of her work, including her response to a prisoner escape at Glen Innes Correctional Centre and other incidents of inmate self-harm.
“It’s my job to safely and efficiently manage the daily routine of offenders so they can return to the community better prepared for life’s challenges from when they first entered custody,” Ms Porter says.
“To help a person who is suffering from illness, addiction or mental health issues and have that person say ‘thank you’ is very satisfying – that’s why I do it.
“So if someone really wants to break the cycle of imprisonment we can provide them with all the options to assist them make that change – they just need to take that step.”