A good job but management needs improvement
Probation Officer (Current Employee) – Various location – 15 April 2019
I worked in the public safety/justice sectors here and overseas for over 20 years so I know what I'm talking about. Probation in NZ is primarily adminstrative social work and is easy if you are not in a service centre with an large case load. At times.the work is slow.
Probation Officers are expected to do social work and offender compliance which leads to role confusion. Courts will usually sentence offenders who breach community sentences to more community sentences or short terms of imprisonment because prisons are full. Offender behaviour varies little and consists of inablity to think beyond today and high self entitlement, similar to adolescent behaviour. This behaviour is reinforced by MSD, Corrections and the Courts and leads to learned helplessness.
Offenders can be unpleasant to deal with but are manageable as their behaviour is consistent. Some do turn their life around but this is not due to Corrections, it is because they decide to stop offending.
What is not manageable is the management. They can be negative, especially when you point out their lack of competence. Most managers are shoulder tapped and don't know how to lead or manage. The Department encourages management bullying and there will be negative consequences for staff who report this. Central office comes up with plans to manage offenders but they usually fail. An example is "reduce re offending by 25% by 2017." This didn't happen. Staff are usually good to work with although since there is no pre employment requirement or substantial entry standards for Probation Officer (university degree not required, and no training or relevant experience needed), some staff behaviour is bizzarre and it can be like working in a creche. Some offices are "open plan" which is like working in a noisy barn. Pay is reasonable but the union is not effective and pay rises have been minimal. You couldn't live off the salary if you lived in Auckland. Job secuirty is good as it is next to impossible to dismiss an employee, even an incompetent one. Time off is good too, depending on the number of staff in an office. Overall, the job is as good as any other government job. The pay is reasonable but tops out after 4 years and the work environment and management vary depending on what office you work in. There is opportunity for secondments, promotions and transfers but shoulder tapping can be a factor.
Work hours, flexiblity of work
management, role conflict, offenders