Daisy is a Fourth year student at Griffith University. She is studying a Bachelor of Laws/Government and International Relations. Daisy and fellow Griffith student, Mikayla, spent their Justice Journey placement at Burleigh Heads Probation and Parole district office.
When I arrived at the Burleigh Probation and Parole District Office, the office was already bustling with movement and meetings as the work day began. I met fellow Griffith student, Mikayla, who would be joining me for the placement. The first task on our packed schedule, which had been arranged to meet our individual interests, was to talk with Burleigh Heads Probation and Parole District Manager, Michelle Adams.
Michelle explained the unique position in Burleigh Heads and the size of their operations compared to the other centres in South-East Queensland. It was extremely interesting to find out the caseloads of each officer, being a relatively small operation. It was inspiring to hear Michelle talk about her role in the office and how passionate she is about her job. It was exciting to learn that she started out as a student, just like us, who had a passion for community relations and the justice system.
"It was exciting to learn that she started out as a student, just like us, who had a passion for community relations and the justice system."
Michelle took us through the outline of her role, always ensuring we understood all the terms and procedures we would be exposed to throughout the day. Being a law student, I had a precursor to some of the legal procedures, post-court and trial. However, it was really exciting to learn how “hands-on” the officers and managers at Burleigh are with each individual and the large role they play in their journey. Michelle knew my background and was really keen to give me an experience that would complement my studies and passions. The day was very focussed on showing us how our degree and interests could be catered for in the justice system – it was very exciting to explore another option for us post-graduation!
Mickayla (left) and Daisy at the Burleigh Probation and Parole Centre
Later in the afternoon, we attended two interviews and inductions with two individuals who had recently been inducted into the Probation and Parole Office to complete their parole period. Usually, this takes place via twice-weekly, face-to-face meetings at the office and the officers have the task of determining risk-assessments and often helping to arrange accommodation, access to internet and the tools to cope with relationships. It was extremely eye-opening to see the individual alongside the notes in their case file and gave a real life experience I will never forget. Next, we were shown the administrative side of each officer’s role at the office, their arrangements for their schedules and how they arrange and prioritise their heavy workloads. We had the opportunity to sit with different team members including Case Managers and Senior Case Managers to see the large diversity in the role and the different tasks associated with each. Alongside this, we were given case files to read as preparation for some of the interviews we would be observing later in the day.
Our next opportunity allowed us to speak with the Probation Services Officer who conducts, organises and manages all of the community service sites that the individuals have access to as a means of completing their sentences when decided by the Judge. This element is about “giving back to the community” and offenders can work off their hours in centres such as charities, anti-graffiti programs, litter collection and other community-based work. It was really interesting to learn about all the different programs the office can organise to help and engage people back into the community and also to give back to the community through helping not for profit organisations.
The whole day was an incredible experience for students like myself who are interested in beginning a career in the justice system. I was so impressed with the lengths Michelle and her team went to when including us in their day. They went above and beyond to make us feel included and ensured we were keeping up and understanding every element they explained to us. For me, it has cemented that I want to actively pursue a career in the justice system and work in a team, like Michelle’s, where each member has a keen interest and passion for the community. I can’t wait to hopefully return to this experience as a volunteer or intern and perhaps even go back next year for Justice Journeys 2018!