Why Mandy Porter traded in hairdressing for a job in prison | Faces of Tamworth

CHANGE OF PACE: Tamworth prison officer Mandy Porter has enjoyed the move from her previous job as a hairdresser. Photo: Peter Hardin 170118PHA008
CHANGE OF PACE: Tamworth prison officer Mandy Porter has enjoyed the move from her previous job as a hairdresser. Photo: Peter Hardin 170118PHA008

Tamworth mother-of-five Mandy Porter says her new job changes at the drop of a hat. But that’s the way she likes it. Earlier this year, The Leader had the opportunity to speak with Mandy who traded-in a long-term career in hairdressing to become a prison officer. While it’s undoubtedly challenging and at times disturbing, she said the crux of the job is helping people.

A FEW years ago, Mandy Porter gave up the whirr of the clippers and the snip of the scissors for some more heavy duty, and at times, disturbing sounds.

Ms Porter, a hairdresser with 19 years experience, put herself in the clink.

The Tamworth woman has been a correctional officer for two years and it was a “deep thudding noise” that greeted Ms Porter on her first shift.

Why did Mandy make the change? Watch here:

“I went to investigate a deep thudding noise coming from a segregation cell and I found the inmate driving his forehead in the door – he was on day five, withdrawing from alcohol,” Ms Porter said.

It was undoubtedly a jolting a change a pace for Ms Porter, but that’s what she wanted.

“This career, it changes at the drop of a hat, you can come and be taken out on a hospital escort or what have you and each day’s different and that’s what I like,” she said.

You might think the bridge between hairdressing and correctional services is a long one, but Ms Porter said there are some links.

“You’re still dealing with people on a daily basis,” she said.

“Although they’re inmates, we’re there to help them.

“I like helping people.”

She also said being a mother-of-five made her “well-equipped” for the job too.

Ms Porter was no stranger to the profession either, with her husband spending 26 years with Corrective Services NSW.

Tamworth Correctional Centre governor Bill Fittler was quick to point out Ms Porter’s husband had spent those years wearing blue, not the prison greens.

EXPERIENCE: Tamworth Correctional Centre governor Bill Fittler says making a positive change is a big plus of the job. Photo: Peter Hardin 170118PHA051

EXPERIENCE: Tamworth Correctional Centre governor Bill Fittler says making a positive change is a big plus of the job. Photo: Peter Hardin 170118PHA051

She has noticed more females coming through the ranks, in her relatively short tenure, and she said it’s absolutely a job women can do.

“I think women can do this job and you feel proud actually and you put your uniform on and you come to work each day and it’s a good feel,” she said.

Mr Fittler said recent recruiting had targeted boosting female numbers in the ranks.

“The female staff bring a whole range of additional skills and diversity in the workplace,” Mr Fittler said.

“They quite often manage situations differently to the men and in a lot of cases it’s a better way of doing things.”

The governor has spent 18 years in corrections and he said one of the big pluses of the job was seeing change in an inmate’s life.

“It might be linking with their family members they’ve had difficulties with or an inmate who’s actually gone out and got a job,” he said.

Friday marks the first celebration of National Corrections Day which honours the work of NSW’s 5,140 custodial officers, services and programs staff and psychologists - and more than 8,000 total staff.

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