Correctional Officer recruits boosting diversity

A group of people from around the world have graduated as the state’s newest Correctional Officers.

A new class of Correctional Officers has entered the workforce. Photo: supplied

A new class of Correctional Officers has entered the workforce. Photo: supplied

There are 28 new Correctional Officer graduates from eight countries, including India, Belgium, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Greece and Sri Lanka.

The officers will be working at Port Augusta Prison, Mobilong Prison and Yatala Labour Prison.

The fourth Trainee Correctional Officer class to graduate this year, the class includes 15 men and 13 women.

Staff shortages have been a long-reported issue in South Australian prisons, with workers going on strike in 2019 amid a job cuts dispute.

A protest by inmates in 2022 at Yatala Prison was because of a lockdown caused by low staffing numbers. South Australian prisons were again in lockdown in April last year over staffing shortages.

The South Australian Department for Correctional Services’ Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2020-2024 indicated 1948 staff were employed as of March 2020 by the department, 1024 of them being Correctional Officers.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated there were 2995 prisoners in South Australia in June 2023.

Including this class, there have been more than 120 Correctional Officers entering the profession this year.

Graduate Rikki Lellmann said she looked forward to “providing empathy, patience, resilience, understanding and respect for everyone that I provide safety and security for”. Photo: supplied

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Former mental health and disability support worker Rikki Lellmann said her previous professional experience had inspired her to pursue a correctional career.

“I wanted to utilise my current skills to assist, support, guide and be an advocate for offenders to give them the chance to change and shape their lives by supporting their rehabilitation and reintegration to community,” she said.

Newly graduated Correctional Officer Moisema Fofana said the class’ diversity is helpful within prisons.

“If we’re working with a diverse group of prisoners, we need to have officers as well within that different culture or background,” he said.

“It just helps with the whole rehabilitation and reintegration process – you treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Correctional Services Minister Dan Cregan said the diversity of the new recruits “highlights how individuals can make a difference, regardless of their background, nationality or stage of life”.

“Improved workforce diversity better reflects the South Australian community,” he said.

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