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Meet Community Corrections Delegate Liz Moore
WE RECENTLY caught up with CPSU Delegate Liz Moore, who has worked in Corrective Services since 1991 and the Community Corrections Court Diversion Program since 2012. At the end of March she started in the role of Coordinator.
We talked to Liz about her job, her Delegate role and who she is outside of work. We also asked her about the two day training ACTU training course she completed.
“The Court Diversion Program, where I work deals with serious, high risk drug addicts who commit a lot of crime. Instead of sending them to prison we divert them into this intensive, community based program, which is aimed at the pointy end of the spectrum in terms of offenders.”
It’s a relatively small program with 40 people taking part in the south, 20 in the north and 20 in the North West. A collaborative team approach is used, with these participants managed by Liz and her colleagues, magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors.
Liz can see the benefits of the program for both the participants and the wider community. It’s all about making a long term difference.
“The point is to keep them out of prison and save all that money, as well as address the drug addiction that underlies their offending, and in turn other social problems that arise from that.
“It’s a really challenging and a really rewarding role. We see amazing turnarounds in people’s lives. It’s also really good value for public money because we’re making a huge difference with people who cost the state a fortune.
Liz said programs like this existed in lots of places around the world, completing a Masters in 2012 in Criminology and Corrections looking at drug courts.
“What we have here is a different model to what exists anywhere in the world. We’ve got four Magistrates in the South who run the drug courts. We’re back in court with the guys roughly every fortnight in the first six months or so of their orders, and their orders can last up to two years. We’re looking at people who would otherwise be serving a substantial time in prison but instead they come and see us, they go to counselling and drug testing.”
Liz started in the public sector in 1991 as a graduate recruit who did various work placements including at the prison. After that Liz worked at the prison before moving to Community Corrections, where she’s now been for about 20 years.
“It’s excellent work to be doing; I’m really passionate about it. I really believe in what we do and I don’t think you could do this job for a sustained period if you didn’t. It’s challenging, it’s confronting, it keeps us on our toes the whole time but that’s what I love about it.
“You just meet some amazing people and hear the story of their lives and what they’re up against.
“For example, recently one of the guys in the program did his second day in a full time job, he used to be the most shocking drug addict 18 months ago, so that’s what it’s all about. It was a total shift from a pro-criminal life, where everything was criminal with illicit drug use of all descriptions. Now he’s so proud of himself and that’s what makes it worthwhile. It’s taken 17 months on the program to get to that point, so you don’t see instant change but if we can do it in a way that’s sustainable, it’s really powerful.”
Liz has a background in law, with her first degree in Political Science and Public Sector Administration and Law, followed by a Masters in Criminology and Corrections.
Traditionally here in Community Corrections you get people with a background in social work, psychology and criminology and law. That’s one of the strengths, to have that multi-disciplinary approach and a real mix of skills.
Recently Liz took part in a two day Delegate Training course, which she took a lot away from.
“The information was great, and the trainer Jayne was fabulous. I felt this real sense of solidarity and camaraderie with all the other Delegates. What was good and bad was how reassuring it was that everyone else was experiencing similar issues to what I’ve experienced. So on one hand, it’s really reassuring but on the other hand it’s really disappointing as well.
“I met some terrific people, who I’ll stay in touch with. It was a great networking opportunity and a real morale boost as well.”
Liz is a long term CPSU Member but became a Delegate last year after she was approached by the union.
“Last year I had a difficult time and being able to access the help from the CPSU when I needed it was worth the 20 years I hadn’t needed to. It was really good to know that they’re there when you need them.”
Liz had concerns about a number of recruitment processes and contacted the union office for help which resulted in an appeal of the selection review and saw Liz win the job at CMD – the drug court. It also resulted in a number of changes to recruitment processes, which was a really good outcome for the workplace as a whole.
“Celeste (CPSU’s Celeste Miller) was great; she was so supportive, reassuring and encouraging. She stood by me. She asked me if I wanted to be a Delegate and I thought “why not?”. I said yes mainly because I do challenge stuff when I see it.
“Also, with the issue I experienced, I didn’t want anyone else to have to deal with anything like that. I am willing to stand up and say “that’s not okay”. I’m interested in justice, that’s why I work where I work and do what I do. I’m also interested in integrity in decision making, and if it’s not happening I will challenge that and I’m happy to stand by others if they’re in a difficult situation.
“I think everyone needs that back up from the union. There’s also a real strength in numbers. That’s what you often need to be heard and taken seriously.”
This year Liz went back to full time work after many years working part time, which was a bit of a shock to the system.
Outside work she’s married and the mum of two school aged girls in grade seven and ten.
“They give me a hard time and say that I treat them like offenders. I find the skills managing adolescents are very similar to the skills in managing drug addicts!”
To add to her busy lifestyle there’s a German exchange student living with the family for three months. Liz also keeps bees on her property and harvests her own honey which she said is a nice diversion from work.
“We can learn a lot from bees about society, social structures and cooperation. They’re colonial in the sense that they all supress their individuality for the good of the colony. They’re like the perfect little unionists, it’s real solidarity. It’s all about preserving the colony as a whole.”