From prison cells to Sikh gurdwara: how officer uses faith to help others

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Thursday 20 January 2022

B-roll footage and interviews available:

Prison officer Gurpreet Singh believes in the power of faith and second chances – an outlook that has served him well during the almost 30 years he has spent helping inmates, his peers and Sydney’s Sikh community.

Gurpreet is a classification officer at Newington House at the Silverwater Correctional Complex, deciding where inmates are placed and where they have the best chance at turning their lives around.

“It is a long journey for inmates – we do a risk assessment, build a case plan and try to keep them at the lowest level of classification so they can get into the right programs,” the deputy superintendent says.

“Classification and placement is very important – if you move an inmate from one location to another and they don’t have a program, they’re just going to sit down and do nothing, which might encourage them to do the wrong thing again.”

Gurpreet has spent 27 years with Corrective Services NSW, working as a staff trainer, case manager in various rehabilitation programs including sex offender programs, and now classification.


“Programs that help with aggression, or drugs and alcohol, play a very important role – it means when inmates leave prison, they can get work and deal with psychological issues which reduces reoffending behaviour,” he says.

“I have dealt with difficult cases and high-profile offenders – sometimes it is very hard to get those people back into society but it builds your skills so you can help others.”

Gurpreet is among 10,000 CSNSW staff celebrated on National Corrections Day, Friday 21 January, for their commitment to giving back to the community through their work.

As a Sikh, Gurpreet practises ‘sewa’ – the act of selfless service – which means working or giving back to the community without any thought of reward or personal gain.

“Whether it’s fundraising, serving food at a gurdwara (a Sikh place of worship), cleaning kitchen utensils or sharing earnings with the needy – it’s all about cultivating altruism, or sewa, and helping the wider community,” Gurpreet says.

“You learn from your parents and then you teach your kids – we teach the next generation to be selfless, to help others and encourage those positive principles.”

The 2022 National Corrections Day theme is Giving Back, focusing on how our staff go beyond the call of duty to protect the community, mentor staff, fundraise for important charities and contribute to vital community projects and partnerships.

CSNSW includes about 5,000 custodial officers, 1,800 Community Corrections staff, 800 industries workers, 900 psychologists and programs officers and 1,100 Security and Intelligence staff.

CSNSW media inquiries: 0419 258 290 – calls only, no SMS

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