Meet the Escort and Security Branch officer with a heart of gold

You can tell from the moment you meet Stella what a caring and thoughtful person she is – but you can also tell she doesn’t sit still for long.

A well respected and established member of the Escort and Security Branch (ESB) team, Stella is approaching a decade in the service.

“I started with QCS in 2010 as an agency temp in both the Wolston and Brisbane Women’s Offender Health Units as an Administrative Officer.”

“The employment agency offered me the initial job and asked how I felt about working in the prisons. I said it sounded like something I would like to do.”

She became a permanent Administrative Officer in ESB in 2014. Stella tells me she is also a Navita for ESB – a member of the QCS unit spread across all offices and centres to provide support, guidance and assistance to officers experiencing domestic and family violence.

“It is never boring or repetitious which is a good thing, and my work colleagues make the days enjoyable and fun.”

Walking in to the ESB base, one of the first things to catch your eye is a series of colourful and incredibly intricately detailed pieces of art – each one hand painted by Stella.

Stella has recently brought her art together with her passion for charity work with a piece depicting the bushfires, dedicated to the rural fire fighters who have tragically lost their lives to save others in the last few weeks.

“I was upset with the bushfires and the two boys who lost their lives over Christmas, and tragically another has lost his life since. So I decided to paint (‘cos that’s what I do) and put my emotions down on canvas.

“The response to this painting around Australia and some places overseas just left me speechless. I shared it on the Animal Rescue Craft Guild Facebook group and it’s received over 2.2K likes, and even reached some of the friends of the two boys who were killed. I did not expect this reaction, all I wanted to do was paint something,” she says.

“I have been asked to make some prints to help raise money for the Rural Fire Service, so I’m now researching the best way to get this done.”

“I am Aboriginal, South Sea Islander, Afghan and Caucasian, but I have been raised with the Aboriginal and Island cultures. My mum’s country is Kutjala or Gudjala, Charters Towers and my dad’s side is from Cairns and surrounds.”

Stella tells her personal journey through each piece and talks about the therapeutic value of her art, which has been exhibited Australia-wide and internationally.

“My Indigenous artwork was borne from trauma and violence throughout my earlier life, and the paintings tell my stories and helped me heal. Now that I am in a positive spiritual place, my art style has changed to reflect that. These are the paintings that hang in ESB,” she says, gesturing around us.

She leads me to an office – while I admire the intricate art lining the walls along the way – to show me a box containing some of her other carefully created pieces. Hand crafted journals, soaps, tiny dresses – all for a cause. She proactively gives back to others, supporting domestic and family violence survivors, disadvantaged Australians, and animal rescue.

Stella has coordinated contributions through ESB for not-for-profit Orange Sky Laundry, and puts a lot of care and time into hand making soaps to give to the disadvantaged Aussies who use the service to shower and do their laundry. Each one has a home-made printed label and they are moulded into heart, rectangle and oval shapes – coconut citrus sorbet and passion flower with apricot kernel exfoliant and shea butter.

She is also a keen seamstress and anonymously puts her talents to use in helping a range of people in need.

She holds up a tiny pink satin dress, carefully hand stitched with lace detailing and pink satin bows.

“I make little angel outfits that I send anonymously to hospitals for babies who don’t make it home. Grieving parents should not have the extra worry of finding an outfit to lay them to rest.”

“I also sew joey pouches, koala mittens and bat wraps for injured wildlife. I send these to different animal rescue places to distribute to carers.”

When asked what’s next for her, heading into a new decade – she’s always looking for new ways to help improve the lives of those less fortunate.

“The next project I want to start sewing for is Uniforms 4 Kids, recycling donated emergency services and defence uniforms into clothing for children in need.”

I asked how she finds time to keep up with all of her projects with her level of care and attention to detail, and for Stella, the answer is simple. “I like to keep busy, and there’s always something to do make someone else’s life a little easier.”

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