Keen on starting his career in the Queensland Police Service (QPS), Meem got the truly unique opportunity to spend one-on-one time with those who are currently leading Queensland justice. This included the Attorney-General, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) Director-General, the State Coroner, the Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) Commissioner, judges and magistrates, as well as a range of law and justice agencies such as the DJAG policy unit, the Supreme Court Library, QPS prosecutions and areas within QCS, including the Academy.
Before starting my degree, I could not wait to start learning about the field of justice. After years of studying, you reach a point where you forget why you began and where it is going to take you in the future. Luckily enough, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Justice Journeys program which reinstalled my passion and love for the criminal justice system, teaching me so many invaluable lessons and giving me a clear direction of where I want to go in my life. I can confidently say that this was one of the most significant and inspirational experiences I’ve had in my life and I could not be more thankful to receive this opportunity.
When this journey began, I really had no idea what to expect. The first couple of days I spent meeting with and shadowing key public figures, such as the Commissioner of Queensland Corrective Services (QCS), the Attorney-General and the Director-General. These experiences were unbelievable and absolutely exceeded my expectations. I was able to sit and talk to them individually about their views of the criminal justice system (CJS), their backgrounds, how they got to their positions and the challenges they face on a day to day basis. It was unbelievable to see how each of them brought a different perspective, faced different challenges in their line of work, and all had unique backgrounds and traits which allowed them to succeed in their profession.
The QCS Commissioner focused on issues around overpopulation of prisons, challenges correctional officers face dealing with the differences between male and female prisoners, and the issues around infants in custody with their mothers. These are challenges and aspects of corrections which I and most of the general public would not usually think about or consider on a daily basis, but these issues are on the frontline of corrections work.
Shadowing and meeting with the Attorney-General was an extraordinary experience, as I witnessed her daily duties and busy schedule being both the Attorney-General and a member of parliament. Meeting with her staff gave me a new perspective on policy work. It helped me to understand that policy is what drives and makes the underlying change of all criminal justice work, and how important it is to make sure that they get it right. On the other hand, the Director-General spoke a lot about the philosophy of law, challenges in the legal system and investigating new pathways for offender intervention.
The rest of my justice journey involved time spent at the Supreme Court Library, the QCS Academy, the Police Prosecutions and the Strategic Policy team. During my time with the Police Prosecutions team, I learnt a lot about the prosecution process by shadowing prosecutors as they prepared evidence, witnesses and dealt with defendants at court. At the same time, spending time with the Case Conferencing team gave me an insight into the behind the scenes work that goes into preparing a case.
At the Queensland Corrective Services Academy, I was given a tour of the training facilities and the adjacent Brisbane Correctional Centre. This gave me a completely different insight in to how the justice system attempts to rehabilitate and deal with offenders once they have been sentenced. It was interesting to see how these highly skilled officers work with prisoners, including those that are high profile or high risk, and how some of these offenders are monitored after their release from custody.
Meeting and learning from professionals in each different area gave me a clear insight into the career direction I would like to pursue. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity to see all areas of the justice system and learn how they all work together as one. This justice journey allowed me to get an in-depth experience of each area of the CJS, understanding their complexities, challenges and major differences between one another. It taught me that a degree in criminal justice can open many avenues for you and where you start off is only the beginning of your journey. It reminded me the reason I began my studies in criminology and psychology is to make a difference, whether it be to rehabilitate a single offender or make the community a safer place. As unique as every area of the CJS is, that is one shared goal they all uphold and strive towards.