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Case planners celebrated for their service to inmates

Many people are fascinated by what goes on in a prison and assume correctional officers are responsible for all aspects of inmate care and rehabilitation, but there are many non-custodial staff who play an important role.

This includes Parklea Correctional Centre’s case planning team, who provide programs and support so inmates can make better choices and learn to lead more positive lives once they are released.

NSW correctional centres and Community Corrections offices will celebrate the hard work and dedication of non-custodial staff on Administrative Professionals Day on Friday, 3 May.

Senior Case Planner James said he enjoyed helping inmates through the case planning process and leading a team of highly skilled and dedicated individuals, which includes former officers.

“The role of the case plan is to address their offending behaviours and attitudes and we give them the tools they need to succeed,” James said.

Inmates are not obliged to create a case plan, but those who do must agree to its contents before it is finalised.

To develop case plans, the team interview inmates to discover what their needs, motivations and barriers are.

Case planner Kylie said assistance could include information on support services, helping them with property, or checking on their pets.

But often inmates need help with more complex issues that requires participation in programs, such as drug and alcohol interventions, thinking skills, emotional awareness and anger management.

“We have to uncover their needs and motivations by asking them questions and from there we develop the plan together. We are walking beside them in their journey and we are there to support them,” Kylie said.

James said relationship-building was vital to getting the best results for inmates.

“Building rapport and trust is important, as many are cautious at first, depending on their experience in jail.”

Kylie said she enjoyed being a case planner as she was making a difference.

“I do this job as it’s rewarding to have a positive impact on inmates, so when they get back into the community, they’re better off,” Kylie said.

“Some inmates have never had anyone to listen, to care, to empathise. A lot of the time we are the first people who have cared about them and that gets them thinking about what they want to do moving forward.”

Sam was a correctional officer for about 18 months before he became a case planner six months ago.

He has a master’s in social science and majored in criminology. He wanted to work in the criminal justice system, but felt he needed experience in the field to get a foot in the sector.

“Being an officer was very interesting, and I learned a lot, but I wanted to build on what I learned at uni and being a case planner is closer to my skill set and knowledge set,” Sam said.

“As a case planner you get to know the inmate and build rapport with them and deal with their problems. I’m not here to question why they’re in prison; I’m someone to hear their story and they steer the direction of the plan.”

Sam said case planners need to have good interview skills, have the ability to listen, be tolerant, and most importantly, have patience so you can determine the best interests of the inmate.

James said case planning was important to the legal process as it enables inmates to get referred to programs that are going to help them with their legal cases and meet their needs.

“If you reduce reoffending for one person, you potentially help hundreds of people,” James said.

For more information on the types of roles available at Parklea, go to:

Parklea has been operated by MTC Australia on behalf of Corrective Services NSW since 2019.