Principal Functional Manager, John Morony Correctional Centre21 years with Corrective Services NSW
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Gordon McCready was a bit overwhelmed on his first day at Parramatta Correctional Centre.
And that was despite having served with distinction in the Royal Navy and Army in his native United Kingdom for over 12 years.
“You know that feeling when you walk into a new place and you don’t know anyone, and you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into?” Mr McCready says.
“I was so excited and apprehensive! But then, from the first person I met, everyone was so welcoming, saying hello and shaking my hand – I felt like I’d been there for ever.”
More than 21 years later, he’s now a Principal Functional Manager at the John Morony Correctional Centre, where he helps manage day-to-day operations and ensure the centre is safe for all.
He is among 5,140 of Corrective Services NSW’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.
“One of the things I love most about what I do is that no two days are same. Every day offers new challenges, new inmates, new opportunities. It’s exciting and rewarding. And the uniform looks great!” Mr McCready says.
But the biggest reason he does what he does is that “inmates won’t be in prison forever. One day, they’re going to be released,” he explains.
“And one day, they could end up living next door to you or me. I want them be to good neighbours, and if I can do anything to help stop them reoffending, then I will.
“Although some might think rehabilitation is a soft or easy option, it’s an incredibly hard thing to do, for both staff and inmates. But it is achievable, and more sustainable than a life of crime.
“Locking people up is expensive, so rehabilitation and reintegration can save even more taxpayer funds.”
Mr McCready says the rewards of the job go beyond the comradeship or the great-looking uniform.
“Seeing an inmate walk out of those gates clean of drugs and with a positive attitude, knowing they’ve done everything they can to never come back, is an amazing feeling,” he says.
“When an inmate’s family comes up to you with tears in their eyes and tell you how grateful they are that you helped their son or husband or father break that addiction and helped turn their lives around… that’s something you just can’t put into words.”
One of Mr McCready’s greatest goals is to break down the “us and them” barriers between staff and inmates, and representing Corrective Services NSW for National Corrections Day is “an incredible honour” for him.
“Corrections Day recognises all the dedicated men and women who do a challenging job professionally behind the scenes with little or no recognition.”