Minister's Excellence Award recipient Amy Rainford with Vincent Arbuckle, Deputy Chief Executive, Corporate ServicesA former Air Force instructor, now working at Whanganui Prison, was awarded the Minister’s Excellence Award presented last week by Corrections Minister Judith Collins.

Amy Rainford joins the Department after serving eight years in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and found that her service experience stood her in good stead for her transition to Corrections,.

Corrections is currently recruiting 600 new frontline officers, who are needed because the prison population is expected to reach 10,000 by 2017.

Former Defence Force and service personnel are highly regarded as they already have many of the key values and life skills Corrections is seeking, says Andy Langley, Corrections Programme Manager Recruitment.

“We want people who enjoy being a role model and demonstrate the highest levels of integrity and credibility at all times. It’s a team environment so they need to look after each other as safety comes first, which is something service personnel already have.”

After completing her last posting in the Air Force as a Recruit Instructor, Amy says she was seeking a new challenge. Although she didn’t know much about Corrections, after a little research she could see herself in a frontline role and applied to be a Corrections Officer.

“It’s a good progression for a service career as it teaches you life skills you aren’t going to get elsewhere.”

Amy’s instructors were impressed with the diverse set of skills she brought to her Corrections training, saying she displayed a high level of understanding as well as exemplary communication and leaderships skills. Moreover, her military experience meant she was better prepared to deal with the demands of the role and behavioural issues of prisoners.

Amy says she particularly liked the interactive nature of Corrections training, where the recruits get to run through real-life scenarios in a prison environment at the national learning centre at Rimutaka Prison.

“You can only learn so much in a classroom, but there is nothing like doing the real thing.”

Returning to the work environment between training sessions also helped by giving the recruits an opportunity to put their skills into play, she says. During their training recruits are assigned a “buddy” who works alongside them in their assigned prisons

“The Air Force looked after me, but I have to say the frontline staff were just as good, if not better, and I soon felt part of the family.”

Corrections is keen to hire people from a range of backgrounds and life skills so we have a more diverse workforce that can represent and attend to the needs of prisoners, says Andy.

“We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to reduce re-offending and keep the public safe. While it can be a challenging role, the rewards can be life-changing and that’s why the average length of time someone stays on our frontline is eight years.”

“Our people tell us their career at Corrections gives them the chance to work with a team of people who want to change lives. Recruits will get both career and personal growth, job security, a competitive salary, health checks and other benefits.”

New recruits go through an extensive 16 week programme that combines workplace and classroom based learning. Recruits with previous experience may be able to take advantage of a fast-track process.

The increase in the prisoner population is due to more people being held in prison on remand than previously. Legislative changes have also meant prisoners serve more of their sentence in prison, and there has been an increase in prisoners serving longer sentences for more serious crimes. Corrections also needs officers for Mt Eden Corrections Facility after resuming management of the prison in July 2015.

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