Charmaine at Christchurch Women's PrisonCorrections’ new recruit Charmaine Shaw is using her skills as the manager of the South Island Scorpions rugby league team in her new career as a frontline officer.

Charmaine is working at Christchurch Women’s Prison after completing her 12-week corrections officer development pathway course. She was presented with the Minister’s Excellence Award acknowledging the leadership, passion and professionalism she displayed throughout her training.

Charmaine says there are parallels between the skills she has honed through her involvement with the Scorpions and the approach she takes every day working in the prison.

“You have to be dedicated and loyal to the task at hand,” she says.

“Just like training for rugby league, you have to be committed whether it’s in the sunshine or in the pouring rain. You learn to take the not so good days with the really good days and recognise that’s just the way life rolls sometimes. You can’t get hung up on the negatives.

“It’s like losing a game where you learn from what didn’t work well, accept the loss and maybe try a different strategy next time.

“In the Scorpions, we want to encourage the young players to be good young men who will grow up to be good husbands and fathers. You want them to be positive contributors to society and get them to take all the opportunities given to them.

“We look for talent and skill on the field, but the players’ attitude is their most important attribute. In a split second a person’s attitude can take them to a good place or a bad place – I’m looking for the same thing with the women in prison I work with.”

Charmaine says her work in education, with youth and with people with mental health issues has helped with her understanding of her new role. Her knowledge of Te Reo Maori will also be put to great use in the prison’s programmes.

“I am proud to be Maori, the statistics for Maori in prisons are not very good and I want to be a positive Maori role model to the people I work with daily,” Charmaine says.

“I feel very humbled to be in a role where I can influence others and utilise my people skills to assist and guide others to want to be better people and change their lives so that they never return to prison.”

The corrections officer development pathway is a new training package for custodial officers that blends on-the-job and classroom-based learning for corrections officers and offender employment instructors.

Each learner’s development is led and managed by their home prison and experienced prison staff have a key role in progressing learners along the pathway.

“I absolutely loved college and the experiences we had,” Charmaine says.

“Our facilitators were engaging, supportive and passionate in giving us the foundation tools we needed to start in our new roles on the frontline.

“The camaraderie of both my Christchurch-based colleagues and also my wider training cohort was a huge driving force behind my learning,” she says.

“I am loving being at Christchurch Women’s Prison. It is a great place to start my career and there are plenty of opportunities to continue learning.”

Christchurch Women’s Prison Director Wayne McKnight says although Charmaine is new to Corrections she is already making her mark.

“The skills she already learnt leading to her career change to Corrections have put her in a good place for this role. Working in a prison can be extremely challenging but also extremely rewarding.”

“Much like sports management, it is all about people, mentoring and looking for that opportunity to influence change. You need to be patient, supportive and constantly watching for that opportunity.”