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Community Corrections Officer, Newcastle17 years with Corrective Services NSW
Nicole Bodel grew up in Goulburn, where it was common for people to seek careers at the police academy or the prison, the two biggest employers in the area.
Her father was a custodial officer and she always knew she wanted to help people; that she “wanted to give back”.
Still, when she chose a career with Corrective Services NSW, Ms Bodel’s family worried about her safety. Seventeen years later she says she has been in the job long enough for them to understand she has the skills needed to take care of herself.
She is among 1,400 of CSNSW’s Community Corrections officers and more than 8,000 total staff to be celebrated as part of the country’s first annual National Corrections Day.
Ms Bodel says her job as a Community Corrections officer in Newcastle is “never boring” and she enjoys the challenges it presents, such as “re-engaging offenders when they have gone off the rails and assisting them to move towards positive change”.
Offenders struggle with many issues and Ms Bodel says it can be inspiring to make a difference to someone’s life.
“I had one female offender recently who was a refugee and had left her husband due to long-term domestic violence, but during her marriage she had been diagnosed with depression and turned to alcohol,” she says.
“After the offender had been sober for some time she received a Home Detention Order. She said she was very happy and was now able to function and care for her children.
“While the offender was responsible for her own choices, it was humbling that she felt that I had helped her address her addiction to alcohol.”
Ms Bodel, now 35, has chosen to work part-time to make caring for her two young children easier. Trips to Newcastle’s beautiful beaches are a way to unwind on her days off with her family before returning to the rewarding challenges of the job.
“I enjoy working with people and a feeling that I am contributing to a safer society,” she says. “And I really value the many friendships I have developed over the years with my colleagues.”
Community Corrections officers work intensely with offenders once they are released from custody on parole, or are serving community based orders, to provide them with professional case management and supervision in the community.
Evidence shows that supervision combined with rehabilitation is the most effective way of reducing reoffending.
Under new laws to strengthen sentencing options and enable smarter management of parolees, more offenders will be subject to supervision by Community Corrections officers.
The new laws are part of a package of reforms being rolled out by the middle of next year to reduce reoffending, improve community safety and support victims.