Sharon Maclean - Adelaide Remand Centre, Adelaide Women's Prison and Port Adelaide Community Correctional Centre volunteer

1. When did you start volunteering with DCS?
I started volunteering with DCS in September 2015 as it was by chance that I came across the Volunteer Unit in the Port Adelaide Community Corrections office. I am currently studying to attain my Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Degree and volunteering with the Dept. for Correctional Services seemed the correct pathway to follow.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
For many years I was a stay at home housewife however, I have previously been employed as a sales assistant, clerk with both Australian Airlines and Qantas and assisted within several schools as a Music teacher. During the early 1980’s I travelled overseas and worked and lived in London, Scotland, Austria and Switzerland.

I am originally a Melbourne girl and have also lived in the Northern Territory for 18 years where I taught in schools and became involved as a teacher and houseparent with a private college. I enlisted in the Military in May 1986 and spent ten years as a solider and musician both in Melbourne and in Darwin. My husband, son and l moved to Adelaide in 2007.

3. Why did you decide to become a volunteer and how has volunteering benefited you?
I have volunteered for many years now as l enjoy giving of my time and talents to benefit others. I find volunteering rewarding as I teach many young disadvantaged children to learn to play an instrument and it is always rewarding to listen to them play and develop as young musicians.

Learning an instrument and various theoretical concepts requires a lot of discipline and practice. You meet a lot of ‘like-minded’ people who also derive pleasure from helping others. Through volunteering, l have managed to secure permanent employment with DCS that allows me the experience of assisting our most disadvantaged clients and this is directly in line with the degree I am currently studying.

4. Which Prison/s or Community Correctional Centres have you volunteered at?
I have volunteered at the Adelaide Remand Centre (ARC), Adelaide Women’s Prison (AWP) and the Port Adelaide Community Corrections Centre (PACCC).

5. What do you do in your volunteer role at the prison?  
I started volunteering initially with the Department for Correctional Services (DCS) in 2015 in their transportation program where l transported prisoners and offenders to various appointments in and around Adelaide. In March 2016, after successfully completing a TAFE based program, I volunteered in the capacity of Team Leader in the initialisation of the DCS Quit-Smoking strategy. I and my team mentored offenders in the Adelaide Remand Centre to assist the men throughout their withdrawal process and where possible, educated them in ways to combat their addiction via physical, mental and nutrition options.

I have also volunteered in the initiation of the Women’s Prison’s LifeSkills program where the women were taught skills such as sewing, basic cooking, budgeting and interviewing techniques. We found everyday skills such as these were lacking and in order to boost self-esteem among these women, it was necessary to discuss these issues.

6. What do you enjoy most about your role?
As a volunteer, I enjoyed the experienceof meeting new people and knowing that Iwas offering a service that many others would fear to offer.

My University study is also relevant to meeting with prisoners and offenders and affords me the opportunity to enhance my learning and to try to understand the motivation behind a criminal act. It has broadened my approach towards others and has allowed me to further understand our disadvantaged and marginalised communities teaching me to be more tolerant of others in society.

7. What else do you like to do when you're not volunteering?
Aside of study, I love to travel and experience different people and their culture. As a musician, l enjoy playing the piano and trumpet in my spare time. I am also an avid collector and researcher of antique Infantalia and in particular, children’s feeding receptacles and early ink wells dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.