Senior Correctional Officer, Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre18 years with Corrective Services NSW
As a teenager at Castle Hill High School, Glen Barlow’s proficiency in the Korean language saw him top the state’s exams and earn him a trip to Seoul to continue his study at So-gang University.
It was a skill that came in handy years later when Mr Barlow found himself working as custodial officer at Parklea Correctional Centre.
“I remember a group of North Koreans that were held in custody after being caught off the south coast of Australia with a large haul of drugs aboard their ship the Pong-Su,” Mr Barlow says.
“I was asked by management to be posted in their area to enable effective communication.
“It was funny to see the shock on their faces when I walked in and started speaking Korean. I am sure this was the first time they had ever witnessed a Caucasian man speaking their language.”
When Mr Barlow left school, he began working at Macquarie Bank as a funds manager, but within 18 months he had decided he didn’t want to work solely “with a computer screen”.
Instead, he followed his brother into a career at Corrective Services NSW.
Mr Barlow is among 5,140 of CSNSW’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.
“My first day was filled with anxiety and nerves,” says the 37-year-old.
“My only knowledge of a correctional environment was through television shows such as America’s Hardest Prisons. It was through the ongoing support of senior staff that I got through it.”
Eighteen years later, Mr Barlow is still at Corrective Services, and is now a senior officer at the Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre at Parklea.
He continues to enjoy the challenges his work brings, but hopes National Corrections Day will bring more recognition to the role Corrective Services plays in making communities safer.
“Custodial officers respond to more than 60 incidents each day across the state, such as contraband finds, assaults, medical issues and often unpredictable scenarios,” he says.
“Correctional officers face situations that are similar to many other frontline officers, such as police and ambulance officers, however their work mostly goes unnoticed by the community, because it is done behind the walls of prisons or the doors of community corrections offices.
“It is important that we recognise the positive influence CSNSW staff have in rehabilitating inmates, many of whom go on to become social role models to other generations.”