I used to watch a TV show called Criminal Minds and it was a big thing in the UK. It was like CSI but profiling of criminals. I thought, ‘that’s so interesting, I’m going to study it and that will be my career’. I did a degree in criminology and sociology and then travelled to Australia on holidays. Through a friend I got a job at ACSO; I’ve never left.
Growing up I had a very black and white picture of people who commit crimes, it was all about good people and bad people but working on the frontline, you realise there are a lot of factors. Every day is a different situation. You’re always learning. A few years ago, I was seriously assaulted, and it was something I didn’t know if I was going to come back from. It made me think about victims of crime and how they might feel. It wasn’t academic anymore; I had to really work though that fear and it wasn’t easy. But I came back and within a year was promoted to a team leader position and I’m really proud of that.
The joys are when a client learns something and it’s from you. For example, we had a resident who had been with us for four years and moved into the community by himself. It was something he’d always wanted to do. Then there are the little wins, like when someone takes time to explain something with respect instead of screaming and shouting. It’s something they might not have been able to do when they started their program.
We all deserve a second chance and help and support. And that’s essentially what we’re doing. We’re not condoning their actions, we’re just helping the person because they’re not a file, they’re not a jail sentence. They’re people.