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​Mark Gallagher

Senior Overseer, Illawarra Reintegration Centre
10 years with Corrective Services NSW

The first day inside a prison was almost Mark Gallagher’s last – as a qualified landscaper and avid traveller, the busy confines of Silverwater’s Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre were a confronting sight.

Whatever misgivings Mr Gallagher once had about starting a career with Corrective Services NSW are long gone, as the senior overseer marks a decade of sharing his skills with inmates.

“I’d seen an advertisement in the newspaper but I had no idea about corrections – I even got a bit of a shock when they asked me if I was prepared to use a weapon,” the 46-year-old says.

“But once I’d done the training and realised everything is very controlled, I was keen to give it a go and I haven’t really looked back since.”

Mr Gallagher 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.

Since joining CSNSW in 2008, Mr Gallagher has worked at Long Bay, Silverwater and Nowra and now works with the Illawarra Reintegration Centre’s Community Projects Team.

He says his work is not about changing lives – rather giving inmates the skills and opportunities to do it themselves.

“I don’t think I’ve changed anyone’s life but you do give them that opportunity,” Mr Gallagher says.

“You can’t make inmates change, but if you get inmates who want to learn some skills then we can teach them and give them that experience.”

The Illawarra Community Projects Team performs vital building, maintenance and grounds-keeping work at 25 sites, including the Bulli Community Centre, Mt Keira Scout Camp, Killalea State Park, Illawarra Cycle Club and Tarrawanna Soccer Club.

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.

Mark Gallagher