NAIDOC Week is underway, so it is the perfect time to put the spotlight on one of our outstanding Indigenous officers for #TakeaLookInsideQCS

With NAIDOC Week underway, it is the perfect time to put the spotlight on one of our outstanding Indigenous officers for #TakeaLookInsideQCS. Alysha, a Cultural Liaison Officer (CLO) at Brisbane Correctional Centre, is showing how a little bit of care and compassion and a positive attitude goes a long way to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners in our care.
Alysha has been working as a CLO with Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) for more than four years.
“Before joining QCS, I was working for another government agency, but I wanted to look for a culturally fulfilling job,” Alysha said.
“For me, it was important to work for my community, as my Mother and other family members have always done that.
“When my sister Ebony, who is a Custodial Correctional Officer at BCC, told me there was a CLO role being advertised at the centre, I thought it would be a perfect fit for me. I applied for the position and have never looked back.”
Alysha said the main role of the CLOs at the centre was to provide cultural support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners who come into custody.
“We get the prisoners settled into custody and make sure they have the proper support and help them out with any questions they may have,’’ she said.
“We also connect them with family and their culture through activities, especially when there are events such as NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week.”
Alysha said when a prisoner is identified as at risk, vulnerable or if they are on safety orders, the CLOs will arrange for a counselling service to visit.
“We also arrange post release support for prisoners to give them every chance of progressing on their path to rehabilitation.”
Alysha said having a cultural connection with prisoners was important.
“Having that common cultural connection allows the prisoner to feel comfortable opening up to us,’’ she said.
“We never preach to them and refer them on if needed. It’s all about helping them to engage and letting them know it is okay to get help. They appreciate having a chat.”
And while she loves her job, there is a sad side to her role as well.
“Unfortunately, the CLO team members must be the bearer of bad news sometimes when a prisoner has a passing in the family,’’ Alysha said.
“Our goal is to make sure that the prisoner is coping with the news and ensure they have support during these extremely difficult times.
“We will try and arrange for them to speak to family members and live stream the funeral if possible.”
Alysha said having the backing and support of the centre management and staff allowed the team to provide culturally appropriate support for the prisoners.
In addition, having the support of Elders who volunteer their time at the centre, makes a lasting impression with prisoners and staff.
“It is so rewarding when you see prisoners opening up to the Elders. The Elders don’t come here to to judge, they are here to listen. It is all about yarning. They let the prisoners know there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“It is an amazing thing to see and it always makes my day.”
She said an exciting venture currently underway at BCC was a pilot art program which involves Indigenous artists coming to the centre for painting classes with the prisoners.
“This program has been affected by COVID-19, but it is having a really positive effect on the prisoners. When they are sitting down and yarning and connecting with their culture through art, it gives them the confidence to open up and talk about any problems they may have.”
Alysha said she was lucky to work with amazing colleagues including her fellow CLO team members – Corey, Troy and Andrew.
“We are like a little family. Coming to work is enjoyable and we know we can bounce things off one another and debrief at the end of the day. Culturally and personally we are here for one another.
“For me, this job it is such a fulfilling role, it just lifts me up. Being able to help the people in our care in some small way, is alI I could ever ask for.”