Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice. Find out more >
Senior Correctional Officer, Grafton Correctional Centre12 years with Corrective Services NSW
When Rachel Fodera graduated from the Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy as a custodial officer in 2005, her father told her he always thought she’d end up in prison.
He was joking of course ¬– and he was correct too, in a funny way.
In the 12 years since, she’s risen to the rank of Acting Assistant Superintendent and served at prisons around the state, including Wellington Correctional Centre in Windsor in Central West NSW, Grafton Correctional Centre in Northern NSW and now Glen Innes Correctional Centre in New England.
Ms Fodera 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.
“I always wanted a career, not just a job,” Ms Fodera says. “And now, it’s a vocation. I’m so proud of the uniform, and everything and everyone it represents.”
Her family are incredibly proud that she is representing Corrective Services NSW for National Corrections Day.
“We’re frontline service people, who do a very difficult job in sometimes very challenging circumstances,” Ms Fodera says. “It’s an incredible privilege to represent my colleagues, and to those inspiring and heroic officers who’ve come before us.”
That is what makes her strive to be a positive role model to others, including to inmates.
“If you treat inmates the way you want to be treated, then more often than not they’ll treat you the same way,” she says.
“If we provide them with the tools for rehabilitation, those who want to change can benefit, and the skills they gain through rehabilitation might enable others around them to consider changing too.”
Ms Fodera has seen this transformation firsthand in a program she initiated at Grafton Correctional Centre earlier last year. Inmates were invited to crochet blankets, toys and other items for the aged, the sick and little children.
So far, more than 300 items have been donated to local hospitals, aged care homes, women’s refuges and charities.
“As well as helping the time pass more quickly and productively, it offers them a wonderful opportunity to give something to the community’s most vulnerable while they pay their debt to society,” Ms Fodera says.
Out of everything she’s achieved in her career so far, Ms Fodera’s most cherished memory is seeing her grandfather crying tears of pride and joy when she first marched out from training in her uniform.
“That memory keeps me going, to keep doing that little bit extra every day, to help inmates in my care, look out for my colleagues, and to keep the community safe,” she says.