Senior Overseer, Wellington Correctional Centre11 years with Corrective Services NSW
Prison came at just the right time for Rodney Pedron. The 60-year-old had spent more than two decades installing and maintaining phone exchanges in the state’s central west when he was made redundant for the second time.
“I was lucky that Wellington Correctional Centre opened in 2007 and I was able to get a job as an overseer,” Mr Pedron says.
“I liked it from day one – I seemed to be able to cope with it OK and got along with a lot of the inmates. But the challenge is that it’s different every day – it is never boring.”
Mr Pedron 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.
Mr Pedron began his career at The Wellington Times: “I mostly worked on setting up the newspaper for print each day. We had to create our own letters with molten lead. I would then drive to Orange and get the paper printed at the office of The Central Western Daily.”
He is now the senior officer overseeing a group of 25 inmates working in the busy prison-grocery area, known as the ‘Buy-Ups’ unit, which distributes food and toiletry items to inmates at six correctional centres across the state.
Wellington’s other industries include a print shop, packing, laundry, kitchen and ground maintenance, which employ about 315 male and female inmates.
In the past 11 years, Mr Pedron says the emphasis on inmate industries has shifted more towards education.
“There are more practical courses and training involved now, which is good to rehabilitate them,” Mr Pedron says.
“Most of the inmates are good workers here - a lot of them are so keen they even want to work on the weekends. If you give them a bit of freedom to make their own decisions, and some ownership of the job, they seem to have a bit more dedication to their work.
“We had one guy not that long ago who had been in prison for five years. We had some contractors doing work on site and they liked his work ethic, and when he left prison they offered him a job, so he had a good start back at life.”
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.