Img 2684 Catherine Saxby

Take a Look Inside QCS officer profile

Catherine, a Custodial Officer Entry Program (COEP) coordinator at Townsville Correctional Complex (TCC), has a Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) career spanning almost 35 years.

We’d like to congratulate Catherine who was recognised today during a graduation ceremony at Townsville for her long and meritorious service and for the contribution she has made in keeping Queensland communities safe.

When Catherine joined QCS in May 1987, she was among the first cohort of female officers to be trained at TCC since the early 1900s.

In those days, Catherine said the role of a female officer was viewed differently to the way it is today.

“As a female officer, you were looked at very carefully and while some of the male officers were welcoming and supportive, others were not, so you had to have a good sense of humour,” Catherine said.

“QCS was looking for officers to run programs for prisoners and we were the first nine females to go through a seven-week training program at the centre.

“By the time we came on board as qualified officers, the direction had changed and there was a stronger focus on our role as Custodial Correctional Officers (CCO).

“Then there was a delay with the opening of the women’s centre, so for the first six months we worked in the men’s centre.

“It was a good learning curve because we did a lot in relation to the reception of prisoners, administration tasks as well as custodial duties and worked under the Chief Clerk, who was a very powerful person in those days.”

Catherine joined QCS while studying community welfare at university as she wanted to put her educational learnings into practice.

“I have always been prisoner-centric so the need to foster case management and rehabilitation was my primary goal.”

Catherine started off as a CCO and moved up the ranks through acting opportunities and secondments, securing senior officer positions, including First Class Officer, where she mentored new recruits coming into QCS.

“After a while, I decided shift work wasn’t going to work for me because I didn’t sleep well after a night shift, so I decided to become a Suicide Prevention Trainer.

“I was already doing this type of work in my volunteer role at Lifeline and while at university, so the interest and previous experience contributed to my change in focus to become a trainer at TCC.”

Whilst holding the position of Staff Training Coordinator across TCC, Catherine is currently undertaking, as she has done on many occasions, the role of coordinator for the (COEP) at TCC.

In this role, she oversees the delivery of the ten-week week program, to ensure recruits are prepared to take up their duties as Custodial Correctional Officers, upon successful completion of the program.

“My portfolio extends from information technology functions to human resources and everything in between to make sure our new recruits have everything they need to start and undertake the intensive COEP training course.

“The CCO role is a confronting job for officers, but we are preparing our recruits better today for the challenges they will face working in centres.

“There is a more relevant focus on building resilience and abilities to be self-assured, while arming recruits with the necessary skills, support and knowledge they need to deal with difficult behaviours and the expectations of working in a modern correctional centre.

“If you enjoy working with people, I highly recommend QCS as a challenging, but rewarding career,” Catherine said.