Lauren Fusco

My five week internship at Corrections Victoria was the best program I have participated in whilst completing my Bachelor of Arts (Criminology) at Monash. I had heard of Monash’s internships before though the programs being advertised were never related to my discipline of study. I decided to seek out my own work experience and I fortunately soon found out that Monash had an affiliation with the Victorian Department of Justice. The process took about three months to prepare for my internship which consisted of an application, interview, information session, a national police check and a lot of persistence, all of which was simple and easy to understand thanks to the internship program staff.

My first day at the Moorabbin Community Correctional office was daunting as I did not prepare to come face-to-face with offenders so quickly, however I was excited because I knew I was lucky to be given such a valuable experience outside the lecture theatre. I instantly became comfortable with my supervisor and co-workers because it was such a positive environment considering the nature of work everyone undertook.
Every day was different for me at Moorabbin Corrections. Most days I was writing reports on the progress of offenders’ correction orders, other days I sat in supervision appointments and documented how offenders were progressing with decreasing their criminal behaviour and I also attended Magistrates’ Court hearings where the most diverse cases were being heard from family violence, theft and drug use.

I commenced without really knowing what I wanted to get out of it. At some points I was utterly exhausted from working full-time hours four times a week, in addition to additional university work, a part-time job and other commitments. I also questioned if I genuinely enjoyed the work I was doing at Corrections and whether it was something I would pursue after my degree. This shortly changed when I started meeting unique offenders such as single mothers with acute drug addictions, those with high-risk of self-harm and domestic violence victims. Their own personal situations made me realise that there are people in society who are severely disadvantaged and they often go unnoticed then slowly slip through the cracks and into the criminal justice system where they tend to spend the rest of their lives. What also made me change my mind about the work was seeing offenders reach milestones such as staying abstinent from alcohol or drugs for a month, discontinuing their methadone or antidepressant medication and most importantly, completing their corrections orders. This was the truly rewarding side of being a Corrections Officer.

I had difficulty when it came to choosing a relevant issue to base my final report on because there were so many areas I wanted to write on. I slowly noticed that many offenders changed their lives because of drug and alcohol counsellors but also by participating in positive lifestyle programs therefore I decided to focus on reducing the rate of reoffending through these interventions which directly addressed the reasons why they were engaging in criminal behaviour. I absolutely loved researching this topic because the statistical information on recidivism was so reflective of what I had experienced first-hand through my internship.

The five weeks I spent at Corrections really provoked my interest and passion for progressive judicial reform and in particular, the factors contributing to criminal behaviour such as financial disadvantage, homelessness, mental illness, substance addiction, child abuse and gambling, only to name a few. Furthermore, it has encouraged me to pursue a career in making a difference in the community by preventing the onset of the implications of these contributing factors and providing an effective form of intervention.
Aside from these realisations, my internship was an amazing way to network with people and has helped me when applying for jobs by providing highly relevant references to the work I anticipate to apply for.

I would highly recommend the Monash Arts Internship Program to anyone looking to add a unique aspect to their degree and I thank Monash for providing me with this truly priceless opportunity.

Postscript:

The day after finishing my final Criminology exam for my degree, I commenced full-time work as a Justice Officer at the Melbourne Assessment and Remand Prison. Although it is in a different area to where my internship was undertaken, I know it would not have been possible without it. The true value of my experience with Corrections Victoria was recognised when filling out job applications and attending interviews, as I was able to confidently answer key selection criteria with relevant examples and additionally provide a great referee. My current role at the prison includes managing prisoner phone records and making telephone calls on behalf of them to their loved ones and legal contacts. Despite being very specific, I have been told by my supervisor that it will open the doors to numerous opportunities within the Department of Justice and Regulation which is my ideal career path, all thanks to the internship I undertook in my Bachelor of Arts.

– Lauren Fusco, Corrections Victoria.