Alumni Kate Summers saw RMIT’s Advanced Diploma of Justice and Bachelor of Criminal Justice as great opportunities to prepare her for a career managing people on community orders.
Kate, what does a day in your job as a Specialist Case Manager involve?
I work with sex offenders who are on parole, helping them integrate back into the community, as well as manage their risk in society and ensure they comply with their court orders.
My average day is quite varied. I could be working from the office interviewing clients (offenders) – a process we call supervision – or engaging with referral services to connect clients with much needed support such as housing, counselling and Centrelink services.
Some days I make home visits to assess if a house and neighbourhood is suitable and safe for the client who is resettling into the community after imprisonment.
A lot of my time involves writing reports and completing paperwork. It’s really important to document and file note all meetings with clients in a clear and concise manner.
I take a holistic approach, empowering the client to invest in positive change rather than telling them what they can’t do. I work on the premise that happy people live good lives so I work to build clients’ strengths and assist them to plan for an improved future.
What inspired you to get into this field?
I originally wanted to join the police force and enrolled in the Advanced Diploma of Justice with that goal in mind. It wasn’t until my placement with Odyssey House, a not-for-profit organisation that offers community-based treatment and support services to address alcohol and other drug problems, that I realised I wasn’t purely interested in compliance. Through the placement, I discovered my interest in the psychology of offending behaviour and a passion for helping people overcome challenges and improve their lives.
How did your studies help prepare you for work?
My studies, particularly the Advanced Diploma, gave me valuable practical skills that I still use today, after five years in the workforce. I learnt to think critically and analyse situations and interactions.
I can’t underestimate the importance of the writing skills I gained, learning different reporting styles and how to communicate in a clear and concise way.
I also gained a theoretical understanding of the criminal justice system, and developed my interpersonal skills and my confidence.
Completing both degrees at RMIT has helped me to progress quickly in my career and gain a specialist position.
What advice do you have for other people who want to work in this area?
Don’t think vocational learning is a breeze. You will be pushed to reach your full potential and come out a better person.
Take in everything you can. The teachers are professionals in their fields and have lots of knowledge. They are willing to mentor and support your journey to a successful career.
I can’t emphasise enough the value of honing your writing skills. Many government jobs require lots of report writing. This is your time to become an expert.