Work's like one big family for correctional centre staff couple

FAMILY: Peter and Toni Cowell at Oberon Correctional Centre, which will celebrate National Corrections Day this Friday.

FAMILY: Peter and Toni Cowell at Oberon Correctional Centre, which will celebrate National Corrections Day this Friday.

WHEN Toni and Peter Cowell gave birth to their son at 26 weeks and spent four-and-a-half months in hospital, they say it was the support of their Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre family that helped get them through an anxious time.

Ten years on and the Cowells are with a new work family at Oberon Correctional Centre at Shooters Hill, where young adult offenders undertake vocational training, education and other programs to assist with their rehabilitation.

They are two of the many staff who will be recognised during National Corrections Day this Friday.


"The support we were provided by our colleagues then, and in other situations since, shows that we're more than just an organisation but we do band together like a family," Mrs Cowell said.

Mrs Cowell, a functional manager, started as a custodial officer in 2003 at Silverwater, following in her mother's footsteps with a career in corrections.

She met her husband on the job in Sydney before they moved to the Central West to support Mrs Cowell's career progression.

"It's good having a husband around who speaks his mind, but when we work, he's got his job and I have my job, so we don't cross over unless it's for professional reasons," she said.

"I've been very lucky to be able to develop and move into different roles and it's nice knowing that I'm playing a part in addressing offending behaviour and assisting young adults ahead of their release."


Mr Cowell, a former custodial officer who now works in Services and Programs, says it's good being able to work in the same field as his wife.

"Love is where you find it," the 28-year Corrective Services NSW veteran said.

"At Oberon it's very much a small community and it's great having a massive support network - brothers and sisters you never knew you had.

"I've been exposed to a variety of experiences working in offender behaviour and mental health units and particularly at Oberon, I do feel like I'm making a difference."

Minister for Corrections Anthony Roberts said the "We Are Family" theme for National Corrections Day this year focuses on the camaraderie of Corrective Services NSW.

"Correctional staff do vital work rehabilitating offenders in an environment that is often challenging and volatile," he said. "Every day they work together like one big family, to support one another and meet the challenges of the job.

"We saw this just recently during the bushfire emergency, as staff banded together to assist each other and their communities."

In the lead-up to National Corrections Day, CSNSW discovered about 200 family units working in the organisation - and there are likely more.