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Senior Services and Programs Officer
Seven years with Corrective Services NSW
News that a former offender had become a drug and alcohol counsellor has been one of the highlights of Georgie Ross's time as a Senior Services and Programs Officer.
The 32-year-old first case-managed the inmate seven years ago and after moving to another correctional centre, Ms Ross heard he never returned to custody and found a job.
"Sometimes you don't know the result of your work but this story is one that will live with me forever," Ms Ross says.
"At the time of working with him, he had probably done as much prison-time as I had been alive, but he hasn't returned since."
Ms Ross had been working in custody rooms at NSW Police while completing her postgraduate certificate in counselling, when her light bulb moment came.
"It was 4am on a Saturday and I was examining people with drug and alcohol issues," she recalls.
"The idea of helping people in custody to prevent these issues was of great interest to me.
"The main goal is to reduce recidivism but most of the time you can only do this in little steps."
The former Sydneysider has been working at Wellington Correctional Centre for the past year having previously worked at Long Bay, Bathurst, the Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre and as part of the Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program at John Morony Correctional Centre.
Ms Ross says knowing your boundaries is important.
"If you're judgmental, it's never going to work. You need to actually listen to what the offender is saying and understand where they're coming from and their own experiences and issues," she says.
"You work with inmates convicted of different offences but you need to view them as individuals and treat them in a professional manner.
"We need to find what programs suits that particular offender."
Ms Ross says working at Wellington Correctional Centre had broadened her experience.
"There's a mix of inmates at the prison – maximum security, minimum-security, males, females and a large group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders," she says.
"The variety of offenders you deal with and the more experiences you gain builds your confidence in the role.
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