Fulham prison’s new graduates

Liam Durkin

FULHAM Correctional Centre has expanded its workforce heading into the new year, with 24 new correctional officers joining the facility.

The appointments come as the centre undergoes extensive capital works, which will result in prisoner capacity raised in coming months to more than 900.

Fundamentally, the new employees will be responsible for the overall security and safety of the centre, while also working on rehabilitating prisoners.

The recruits were selected from more than 200 applicants.

They then undertook a comprehensive course, before formally graduating in front of peers and family at the centre just before Christmas.

Fulham’s newest correctional officers come with a diverse range of skills, backgrounds and ages, with some entering the role for a career change, while others are looking to gain an insight into how the correctional system works.

One of the centre’s new correctional officers, Joanne Caples, said she hoped her appointment would help in gaining industry experience as she completed her studies.

“I’m doing a bachelor of psychology majoring in forensics, so I basically wanted to get my foot in the door and get some experience working in a forensic population,” she said.

“There’s a bunch of different employment opportunities available, so I will either go casual to start off with or see what kind of full time work is available to be flexible with study.”

While undertaking the course, Ms Caples said her cohort had formed some tight bonds in their time together.

“I probably underestimated what we would be going through,” she said.

“We definitely got pushed to our limits, but in a good way.

“I think we all felt like we came out very accomplished in the end.

“You have to know how each other works to play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses – so that was a big learning curve – to know who you can lean on and who’s going to be able to do what.”

The graduates also gained valuable insights by completing placements in the prison during the course, enabling them to be as best prepared to think on their feet and deal with challenges.

Another graduating correctional officer, Tim Heaney, said staff at Fulham had been extremely helpful in assisting the new kids on the block.

“With corrections there is a lot of administration, case work as well, helping people work on reintegration, so coming in I thought it would just be a lot of security – but there’s so much more to it than that,” he said.

“You’re pretty much doing five different kinds of work all in the one job role.

“It’s not something that’s at the forefront of your mind when you’re job hunting, but I’m glad I did (apply).”

At the graduation ceremony, all newly-appointed correctional officers were awarded their completion certificates, before proudly declaring their commitment to the role.

A number of special awards were also handed out, with Mark Foster (peer recognition), Georgia Davie (academic excellence) and Joanne Caples (overall achievement) recognised for their outstanding conduct and effort.

The most recent class was the second to graduate last year.

Vacancies for correctional officers at Fulham are at the discretion of Corrections Victoria, and job opportunities are typically advertised in local media and on most online search engines.