Services and Programs Officer, Dillwynia Correctional Centre10 years with Corrective Services NSW
Sandra Narayan lives for the light-bulb moment. That instant when everything clicks into place for one of the female offenders in her therapeutic programs and they understand that change is a real possibility.
“As a Community Corrections officer I have worked with some very difficult offenders who have thanked me for my patience in working with them,” Ms Narayan says.
She 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.
Seeing offenders outside of work who have changed their lives and had no further conflict with the law gives her the motivation she needs.
Ms Narayan, who grew up in Baulkham Hills in Sydney’s north-west, is the youngest of seven children and an identical triplet – all three have found careers with Corrective Services NSW.
The 51-year-old says she always wanted to work with people and make a difference and when her sisters heard about what she was doing, they felt the same.
Ms Narayan began as a case manager with the Department of Children’s Services and worked in probation and parole with CSNSW before deciding she wanted to spend more time working with inmates, as she felt it was more suited to her skillset.
“I like to challenge myself. They’ve had enough bitterness in their lives. I see it as a challenge to see how far I can work with challenging behaviour,” she says.
Now a Services and Programs officer at the High Intensity Program Unit at Dillwynia Correctional Centre in Berkshire Park in north-western Sydney, Ms Narayan is keen to represent CSNSW for National Corrections Day and be a positive role model.
She says beliefs and values such as service, trust, accountability, integrity and respect are integral to her role and she is frustrated by critics of the system.
“I wish that many cynics who love to criticise NSW prisons could come and work in the correctional centres to see the difficulties faced daily by correctional staff in dealing with inmates,” Ms Narayan says.