The more you do and practise, the better you'll be and that's the same with changing behaviour.Chris Osborne - programs officer
A dedicated team of program officers at Bathurst Correctional Centre is making headway in the rehabilitation of inmates on shorter sentences.
The team of eight in the High Intensity Programs Unit are among the 10,000 Corrective Services NSW Staff celebrated on National Corrections Day, on Friday, January 15 for their commitment to reducing reoffending.
Services and programs officer Chris Osborne has worked with the team since they set up in late 2017, running programs for offenders serving sentences, less than 12 months.
"It is really about intensely going over the same skills daily to address the offending behaviours related to substance addiction, aggression or domestic abuse," he said.
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"The inmates will say 'we did that yesterday' but its like with anything, the more you do it and practise, the better you'll be, and that's the same with changing someone's behaviour."
Mr Osborne traded greenkeeping for a role as overseer at Oberon Correctional Centre a decade ago before moving to Bathurst Correctional Centre in 2014.
He received a letter of appreciation from a former inmate last year who had repeatedly been in trouble with the law, mainly receiving short sentences.
"The older man mentioned you're never too old to learn new trucks and how participating in the High Intensity Programs Unit (HIPU) made him realise how precious life is, being able to see his grandkids and daughter on the outside," he said.
"I've also seen a former inmate go on to become a drug and alcohol counsellor and that's what reducing reoffending is all about - giving people strategies so they can contribute to the community and live a life freely."
Around 250 inmates over the past three years have benefitted from Bathurst's HIPU, which also focuses on pre-release planning, including practical life and communication skills.
Senior services and programs officer Georgie Ross helps organise the HIPU inmates' program timetables among other tasks.
"While the intensity of programs is overwhelming for some, you do see improved behaviour - the men are often more relaxed towards the end and more open to change."