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​Peter Fitzgerald

Community Projects Officer, Illawarra Reintegration Centre
One year with Corrective Services NSW

On any given day you can find Peter Fitzgerald somewhere in the Illawarra community, flanked by a team of inmates building garden beds, mending fences or installing bench seats at a local soccer club.

It’s not the type of work people usually associate with a career in prisons, but it’s exactly the type of job Mr Fitzgerald wanted when he joined Corrective Services NSW 12 months ago.

“I was a self-employed carpenter doing commercial fit-outs and renovations but it got to the point where I was dreading going into work and taking after-hours phone calls,” he says.

“I wanted a career change but I didn’t want to start from scratch and I had an interest in helping people and giving something back, so I thought becoming an overseer would be a good fit for me.”

Mr Fitzgerald 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.

In the spirit of change, the 36-year-old joined the Community Projects Team at the Illawarra Reintegration Centre after moving his family from Sydney to the region and welcoming the birth of his third child.

He says there are many benefits to supporting the region’s sport, volunteer and not-for-profit organisations – for himself, the inmates and the community.

“A lot of the work we are doing with these organisations is really crucial for them – we’re doing the things that they wouldn’t have the time, opportunity or money to do themselves,” Mr Fitzgerald says.

“Many of our clients are really appreciative of the work we do, and the inmates really feel proud about giving something positive back to the community.

“I love not only the variety of work and the officers I work with, but it’s great to see inmates really motivated, learning new skills and working together to achieve something.”

The Illawarra Community Projects Team performs vital building, maintenance and grounds-keeping work at 19 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.

Peter Fitzgerald