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Senior Services and Programs Officer
Nearly three years with Corrective Services NSW
Kate Mills has had a number of jobs over the years – in nursing, training and human resources – but she never expected to end up inside a prison.
It was while working at a homeless refuge that she saw the opening for a Services and Programs Officer with Corrective Services NSW and decided to apply for it.
"Not in a million years would I have expected to be working in the prison system, but now that I'm here I couldn't imagine doing anything different," the 41-year-old says.
Ms Mills entered the role in 2014 while completing her Bachelor of Social Sciences at university. Six months into the job she became a Senior Services and Programs Officer.
Ms Mills – who is based at Cooma Correctional Centre in the state's south - says her work allows her to help both the inmates and the community.
"I believe that the work we do with the inmates reduces the risk of further harm within families and within the community," she says.
"When inmates are doing programs I can see their behaviour shift - even from a few weeks in.
"We hear regular stories of inmates being released and living successfully in the community and I often receive phone calls or letters from inmates that have been released thanking me or the team for the work we have put in.
"Offenders are human beings and for the most people will be released into our communities. We don't want to be here housing prisoners with no help or support – what would that achieve?"
A keen dragon-boater and skier outside of work, Ms Mills' main focus as a Senior Service and Programs Officer is the coordination and delivery of therapeutic programs.
She also recently organised a pre-release expo for offenders by inviting disability services, job providers, and Centrelink and Medicare representatives into the centre to meet with inmates and answer their questions.
This year Ms Mills will begin studying for her Masters in Forensic Mental Health, in an effort to learn more about the factors driving criminal behaviour.
"I'm hoping it will improve my skills so that I can work more closely with the inmates to identify the issues they're facing and how we can better support their needs after their release," she says.
"I look at the degree as an investment in my job and an investment in the people of the community."
Work for CSNSW