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​Simona Wainer

Services and Programs Officer

Six years with Corrective Services NSW

Ask Long Bay Services and Programs Officer Simona Wainer what the key is to helping inmates transform their lives and her answer is simple – provide them with hope, increase their self-worth and harness their motivation to change.

It's something that she strives for daily, working in Statewide Disability Services with some of NSW's most complex inmates just prior to their release.

"For me it comes down to really understanding and nurturing the dignity and value of a human being," she says.

"These individuals require a high level of support both in custody and in the community due to their various levels of cognitive functioning and often vulnerable nature.

By providing them with opportunities for a better future through services and programs, Ms Wainer hopes to create a foundation for positive change and an optimistic outlook for the future.

Ms Wainer started her career at Corrective Services NSW in 2010, working as a personal assistant to the General Manager at Long Bay Correctional Centre while studying social work at the University of New South Wales.

The 29-year-old had always wanted to work in a welfare role with children, but was surprised at how much she enjoyed the challenge of working in a prison environment and the idea of helping inmates turn their lives around.

Almost four years ago she began working as a Services and Programs Officer, working in various areas of the Long Bay Complex. She now works with Statewide Disability Services and has found her passion helping inmates with an intellectual disability plan and prepare for their release into the community.

"I believe that I have a big responsibility in ensuring these inmates don't leave custody without specialised disability services and support networks," Ms Wainer says.

"I take pride in knowing that I have done all I can to set up appropriate supports to minimise their risk of reoffending and successfully re-integrate back into the community."

In a job that can be mentally and emotionally demanding, Ms Wainer says it's important that she reflects on successful work and goals she has achieved – no matter how small.

"Even if someone is out for a few months longer than the last time, then that's a win for me," she says.

Ms Wainer truly believes that even the smallest amount of encouragement can drive people to change the course of their lives forever.

"By highlighting their abilities, strengths and skills, I hope to increase their self-worth, pride and hope for a better future" she says.