Jason Thoroughgood keeps things moving at work.
He drives a busload of offenders to complete community work as part of his role at Lake Macquarie Community Corrections.
The 47-year-old field officer has been with Corrective Services NSW for six years, transporting offenders all around the Hunter and Central Coast to complete grounds maintenance and community projects as part of their Intensive Corrections Orders (ICO).
An ICO is a custodial sentence, which the court decides can be served in the community and is the most serious sentence an offender can serve outside of custody.
Mr Thoroughgood is among the more than 9000 Corrective Services NSW staff being celebrated for their commitment to community safety on National Corrections Day – Friday, January 18.
CSNSW staff includes custodial officers, inmate services and programs staff, psychologists and parole officers.
Mr Thoroughgood said the types of offenders he meets range from people who have never worked a day in their life, to people who own their own companies.
“It’s a melting pot of personalities, which can be challenging to manage but I always maintain an upward beat and keep everyone motivated to do a good job,” Mr Thoroughgood said.
“We complete a lot of grounds maintenance work at various locations, which are often overgrown and covered in rubbish.
“The offenders go above and beyond what is required of them and usually want to keep cleaning to make more of an impact.
“We have a great relationship with the local community.
“We’ve helped with bush fires and natural disasters in regional areas, removed snakes from schools, assisted with traffic control after an accident, and even rescued tourists from a serious kangaroo attack at Morisset on the Central Coast.”
Mr Thoroughgood works with around 15 offenders at a time and says the Lake Macquarie Community Corrections office, located in Cardiff, has a high success rate when it comes to reducing reoffending.
“I work with great people, from administration right through to management,” he said.
“We have a tight-knit team and it comes through in the work we’re doing with offenders. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”
The 2019 National Corrections Day theme is Working Corrections, focussing on inmate industries and the work of Community Corrections officers, who supervise offenders on court-ordered community work.
There are nearly 1600 Community Corrections staff working at more than 130 reporting locations across the state, supervising offenders on parole and court-ordered community work.
Corrective services staff will be celebrated across NSW on January 18 during the second annual National Corrections Day.
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said National Corrections Day was a good opportunity to acknowledge and thank corrections staff for their dedication and hard work in keeping the community safe.
“Our staff are varied and talented, and include custodial officers, security and intelligence officers, inmate services and programs staff, psychologists and parole officers. They are the unsung heroes of our communities and we should all stop and thank them,” Mr Severin said.
“Our Community Corrections officers supervise almost 10,000 offenders on court-ordered community-service work annually for more than 560 non-profit organisations.
“We also have about 650 Corrective Services Industries staff, who oversee inmates undertaking work, training and other qualifications to help reintegrate them into the community and reduce reoffending.”
Corrections Day was established by CSNSW in January 2017 to pay homage to front line corrections staff and provide the community with a better understanding of the challenging and often dangerous work they do each day.
The initiative gained momentum and last year was adopted by other states and territories to become National Corrections Day, celebrating the 25,000 front line staff across Australia.
Attorney General and Acting Minister for Corrections Mark Speakman said it was important for the community to understand the important work that is being done behind the walls of prisons or the doors of Community Corrections offices.
“Each day our corrections officers go to work and have to manage some of the most difficult and dangerous offenders, while also striving to rehabilitate them through education and training to help them put their lives back on track,” Mr Speakman said.
“Another of the aims of prison industries, where inmates make their own clothes and prepare their own food, is to substantially reduce the cost to NSW taxpayers.”
There are about 5700 inmates employed by Corrective Services Industries in a range of trades, including engineering, manufacturing, agriculture and hospitality.