28 May 2024

Still learning 28 years on

Karl pictured in his Corrections Officer uniform

After 28 years working at Corrections, Principal Corrections Officer Karl says that he’s still learning.

He’s worked in many different roles across the organisation - starting out as a Corrections Officer on the prison floor, working as a prison negotiator,  becoming a tactical instructor, sentence planning (before case managers existed), and supporting learning and development for a range of roles.

Karl initially joined the organisation after a few family members were in the service and encouraged him to join. He says it was partly due to the encouragement of a manager that motivated him to keep working towards new goals.

“When I came to work at Corrections, I identified really quickly that there was all this learning available. And that was quite exciting.

My manager really encouraged us to look into different roles, and I’ve kept that with me ever since.”

During his long career with the organisation, he says he’s seen how Corrections has evolved and adapted to changes over time.

“I started within the organisation before we even had computers, so there was a lot of upskilling in that space around what was a new tool for us at the time.

The introduction of our Offender Management practice was another big change - having more of those conversations with people in prison on how we can help them and get the best outcomes.”

Because of the different roles that he’s had the chance to step into, he’s also had the opportunity to see the work that Corrections does from different angles. For example, as part of his work in learning and development, he was strongly involved with the development of Corrections Officer, Probation Officer and Case Manager training pathways.

“Working on the Probation Officer pathway was when I started to look more at what the rest of the organisation was doing. I went from a silo to looking more holistically.

It just gave me a real understanding of the entire organisation and how we all are heading towards achieving that similar goal… we all have our own energy and excitement around it, just working towards it in our own way.”

His passion for helping others to, in his words, “find their why” within the organisation still stays with him today, in his current role as the lead Principal Corrections Officer for his site (Spring Hill Corrections Facility). He values the strong relationships and support that he’s had from staff over the years and wants to help create that for others.

“I’ve had many mentors in my career who have supported and helped shape me. I like to be that mentor, offering the same support to our newer whānau.

Recently Spring Hill Corrections Facility appointed new Principal Corrections Officers who we’re supporting in their development. So, my role involves helping everyone can transition into that space as efficiently as we can, and with as much capability as we can.”

Karl says that as well as moving up and across into different positions, there can also often be many learning opportunities within a single role, as it changes and evolves.

“Your role could be one thing, but it quickly evolves into a lot more and I like that because it creates great learning opportunities. Those times where you go ‘this is new, this is different’ - that’s learning for me, and that’s exciting for me.”

His advice for new recruits interested in career progression is to be patient. He says that it took perseverance and continually working on feedback to get him to where he is now.

“Learning comes in bite sizes. We don’t know everything immediately.

We bring a lot of people into the organisation that come with so much depth and value, the only thing they haven’t got is experience dealing with offenders.

They bring their unique experience, and it just adds another layer of depth. Seeing people come in and progress is awesome.”

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