At the Community Restorative Centre (CRC), we have been delivering services to people affected by the criminal justice system since 1951. We believe a strong team that feels valued and supported is the best team to work effectively with clients so we work hard to create an environment that is professional, respectful and culturally safe.
“What motivates me to do this work isn’t monetary; it’s making a difference for people I can relate to – seeing someone go from point A to point B and to be with them on their journey.”
Liam is a proud Wiradjuri man with family connections to Peak Hill and strong roots in Western Sydney. Liam has found his calling in helping people. Working with CRC, his role as a Transition Case Worker is to assist clients who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness in their reintegration from prison to community.
> Read more
Finding his purpose
Liam is a proud Wiradjuri man with family connections to Peak Hill in Western NSW, where his maternal Nan was born on Bulgandramine mission. Liam grew up in Western Sydney with strong roots to Mt Druitt, Blacktown and surrounding areas. Liam’s first job as a young 18-year-old was in a company that manufactured orthotics. Liam’s first manager nurtured and mentored the self-professed “troubled youth”. But after some self-reflection he realised he wanted to do something that made him genuinely happy – helping people.
Finding the dream job
When a contract loss saw Liam’s first community sector role wind up after three years, he did a lot of research to find his ideal role. He had already received a few job offers before he saw the position vacant advertised on the CRC website for a role in the Reintegration Housing Support Program. After speaking with the Program Manager and CRC’s HR Manager, Liam liked what he heard, particularly knowing that there were people who had worked with the organisation for such a long time and the opportunities to progress. After reading the information on our website and LinkedIn he knew he had found somewhere that matched his values. Liam said that even though he was offered more money with the other job offers, he kept coming back to wanting to work for CRC as it felt right for him.
“I tell people if they really want to make a difference, if they want to assist those who are falling between the cracks and really want to support people the way they need to be supported – I tell them to work for CRC! When I am in community, sitting in clinics with clients, I am proud to represent CRC.”
Putting a smile on a client’s face
Liam’s role as a Transition Case Worker is to assist clients who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness in their reintegration from prison to community. The biggest focus of his role is to help clients find and maintain tenancies and to make the transition from prison to housing as smooth as possible for sustained success. For Liam the best thing about his role is “putting a smile on a client’s face and helping them change their life.”
“It might sound a bit cliche, but sometimes it has brought me to tears to get feedback, to be with someone through crisis and see them work so hard to achieve a positive outcome – to know that I have helped make a difference, it really hits home.”
Falling between the cracks
Liam can’t name one best day on the job; he just enjoys supporting clients, especially those who have long histories of criminal justice involvement and other barriers, like AOD use.
“I like working with the clients who have fallen between the cracks, the clients that a lot of services won’t take on board, the ones who just need someone to believe in them. It is refreshing to work for an organization that wants to help those in need and to see them reap the benefits of finally getting the support they need to build sustained success.”
For Liam, the biggest challenge in this work is navigating the system and trying to help workers in other services know that just because someone has made a mistake you don’t give up on them. Liam uses his understanding of his clients’ histories to advocate to services that they can help them rather than turn them away.
“Everyone goes through different journeys in life, and we end up in various places. I advocate for clients with different services to not pass that judgement; don’t just look at what you see on face value. You do not know what someone has gone through or that they did not have access to the resources or support others did.”
Practicing what you preach
The best thing about working at CRC for Liam is the role and the support he gets from the organisation from top to bottom. For Liam, this is unique compared to other organisations he has worked, and as an Aboriginal man he can attest to the cultural competency of CRC. “It is really supportive; everyone does cultural competency training and as an Aboriginal worker I get cultural supervision.”
Liam says that managers support the staff at the ground level to do the work they need to do. He feels like he isn’t micromanaged and has the freedom to do the work he needs to do. He also identifies that the management team are compassionate, and that the support and the values in the organisation run true – it’s not just for show.
“Management practice what they preach. Even the CEO is really present, and if managers and seniors say they care they actually do care.”
Meet Gail Gray, Aboriginal Identified Senior Case Worker with the Miranda Project!
“Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come…I feel like I’ve lived a couple of lives in my lifetime!”
A proud Koori woman, Gail is dedicated to supporting women involved in the criminal justice system. She has faced her own challenges in the past, and she uses her lived experiences to help others, every single day.
> Read more
Overcoming the past, transforming the future: Gail Gray’s journey to become an Aboriginal Case Worker
Gail Gray greets everyone with her warm laugh and welcoming personality. As an Aboriginal Case Worker at the Community Restorative Centre (CRC), Gail provides a helping hand to women navigating the prison system. Many of the people she works with have stories similar to the earlier chapters of Gail’s own life. After overcoming challenges with drug use and prison, Gail now uses her lived experience to help other women do the same.
With women, for women
A proud Koori woman, Gail Gray is an Aboriginal Case Worker co-located at a Women’s Health Centre in Penrith. Taking a holistic approach to case management, Gail uses her initial contact with clients to get to know them, then gradually builds their trust.
“I love that I’m working with women, for women. We have a fantastic, supportive team, and we all share the load. Being able to empower other women to take control of their lives and reach their goals is really rewarding.”
Gail helps her clients identify and achieve their goals – whether it’s to secure housing, manage their mental health, overcome alcohol and other drug dependency, find employment, or avoid prison. Importantly, she understands just how critical these goals are.
Seeds of change
Born on the mid north coast of New South Wales, Gail came to live with her grandparents in Redfern when she was a toddler. Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney wasn’t always easy.
“I left school early and got involved in the drug scene. I was in and out of prison for a long time. There was a particular moment when I was in prison – my release date was coming up, but I didn’t want to get out. I was so institutionalised that I didn’t know how to exist outside the system. At that point, I realised there was something really wrong.”
This realisation planted a seed of hope in Gail’s life, although positive change took some time to occur. It wasn’t until she was again in a place of desperation and entered a rehabilitation program that she turned her life around. Now, Gail’s doing better than ever, and she wants to help others reach their potential, too.
Reflections and celebrations
Gail celebrated two anniversaries in July. The first was her three-year anniversary of working at CRC – and we’re so grateful for all the work she’s done to help women in that time.
The second celebration? She’s been out of prison for 15 years!
“Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I’m pinching myself. I feel like I’ve lived a couple of lives in my lifetime! I sent a message around to my colleagues, and everyone celebrated with me. My story reinforces our belief that you should never give up on someone.”
At CRC, Gail has truly found a place where she can contribute with purpose. But the best thing about Gail’s role? It works. Taking on a client and supporting them to live their best life is something she finds incredibly rewarding.
“There’s one story that comes to mind: a young woman who was facing homelessness and caught up in the drug scene when I first engaged with her. Today, she’s found stability, a home, and a job. She has a future. That gives me a lot of joy.”
Advocacy for all
Gail is passionate about advocating for those who don’t have a voice. Society often sees the people she assists as criminals rather than human beings. Gail believes these attitudes and beliefs are grounded in stigma, and she works hard every day to challenge them.
Gail says she’s proud to work for an organisation with strong values around social justice. She prioritises the immediate needs of each client, but she’s also vocal in her advocacy for systemic reform on a broader scale.
“When people think about the challenges in this type of role, many others might think the clients are challenging. But the biggest challenge is working with the structural injustice entrenched in the correctional system. Navigating these systems is difficult, and that’s why our work at the CRC is so important. We advocate for people who might otherwise fall through the cracks.”
At CRC, we believe every person’s story matters. Whether it’s our clients or employees, we’re passionate about ensuring everyone can shape a life they’re proud of. And we’re so grateful that Gail’s story has become part of our own.
Update: Gail has recently been appointed to a Senior case worker role with Miranda! Congratulations Gail!
Meet our Program Director – Operations and Service Delivery, Michelle Bryant!
“I feel like I am where I’m meant to be.”
Michelle never thought she’d enter the community services sector, but after an eye-opening volunteer experience in Tanzania, her life was forever changed. In the past four years since she joined us, she’s worked to ensure all the necessary support and services are available for our team. Find out how Michelle’s career path led her to us through the ‘read more’ button below.
> Read more
Michelle Bryant supports our team – so they can empower others
No matter how sure we are of our life plan, our true calling will always make its voice heard. That’s exactly how Michelle Bryant came to be our Program Director – Operations and Service Delivery. Exploring her interests later in life led her to pursue a career path she never thought she’d take. But it brought her to us, and since then, she’s never looked back.
From corporate to community
Michelle has never turned down the chance of a new adventure. Over the course of her career, she’s skillfully and enthusiastically navigated the corporate, tech and not-for-profit sectors. For the past four years, she’s brought her love for helping others to our team at CRC.
As our Program Director – Operations and Service Delivery, Michelle ensures all the necessary support, structure and assistance is available for our team. Whether she’s conducting a debrief, organising clinical support or creating policies to support our employees, Michelle says she feels right at home at CRC.
“I feel like I am where I’m meant to be. What we do and how we do it is amazing. I take my hat off to our team members every day. Our work is challenging, but it’s also rewarding; I love knowing that my work impacts our team, which then has a ripple effect on our clients.”
Beauty in change
Michelle is no stranger to new beginnings; she’s worked across the corporate and NFP sectors, and even operated her own software development company. With each new direction, she’s been reminded of her true calling: to help those with lived experience in the justice system achieve their goals – no matter how big or small.
She recalls the moment that first sparked her interest in human services work – a moment which set her on the path to us:
“After working in the corporate sector through my 20s, I started my software development company. But after 13 years, I went looking for something new. I sold the business and spent a couple of months volunteering in Tanzania. It was an incredible experience, and it opened my eyes. I realised that I wanted to pursue a career where I could truly connect with people – in a human and authentic way.”
After returning home to Australia, Michelle spent almost a decade working for a NFP focused on addressing youth homelessness. When she joined our team, she described it as, ‘like winning the jackpot, twice!’
“At CRC, I’ve found an organisation where people respect one another. Our values align and we have a genuinely good culture. I love the way people are supported to do their work here; we all understand how important our roles are.”
In the four years since she joined CRC, Michelle has relished working for an organisation that works to evidence-based practices. She says she gets to do what she loves while learning something new each day.
And the most important lesson? The value of practicing non-judgement across every aspect of her work.
“It’s a privilege to work with people with lived experience. At CRC, everyone works together and treats each other the same way we treat our clients. I’m proud to work with a team that is so inclusive, professional and culturally aware. We make a difference to peoples’ lives, and our people truly feel connected to our mission.”
Meet our HR Manager, Cathy Saunders!
“I love the people I work with at CRC. Here, I’m truly connected with the team, in a place where I can see the value of what I do.”
While Cathy’s been with us for 16 years, she’s spent the past decade building her role from the ground up. She uses her determination, drive and passion to create the best outcomes for our staff – and she can’t wait to see what lies ahead for CRC.
> Read more
Growing together: how Cathy Saunders turned her compassion for community into a career
HR Manager, Cathy Saunders says she’s truly found her place working at Community Restorative Centre. Driven, determined and passionate, she’s shaped her role over the course of a decade. Yet even after all this time, she still feels like she’s just getting started. And she’s excited to see what’s next for CRC.
From the ground up
Cathy Saunders is not your typical HR Manager. A self-described jack of all trades, she loves nothing more than to jump in head-first to support our team through any circumstance; and she’s always ready to extend a helping hand to those who need it. With a career path as diverse as her skill set, Cathy has crafted her role at CRC from the ground up.
First joining us 16 years ago as a Women’s Transition Worker, Cathy’s worked across multiple teams in both client-facing and office-based roles. Having been on the frontline of our services, she takes pride in listening to our team and truly understanding what they need.
“I’m here to help our people, so we can keep doing the good work we do! From conducting interviews, to onboarding new staff and creating internal policies and procedures, I’m ready to help with anything they need. When I first started at CRC, I had no idea I’d end up in this role. But because of my past experience with work health and safety, I noticed we had gaps to fill. I wanted to help, so I said, ‘I’m going to do this!’, and resourced myself to be able to do that.”
Cathy hasn’t always worked in the community services sector. Rather, her career had a very different beginning: as a trainee Park Ranger on Magnetic Island, and later as a Zookeeper in Sydney. But after studying a Bachelor of Social Science, she realised her passion lay in supporting vulnerable people in the community.
Spurred on by this revelation, she left her job at the Zoo and started job seeking in the community sector, before coming to work with us as a volunteer mentor.
“I fell in love with the organisation, their people, and what they do for the community. Their mission and values drew me to work here. I realised I had lived my life with so many reliable support systems available to me, and I imagined what it would be like for people who needed help but couldn’t access those supports. It’s amazing what a bit of human kindness can do for another person!”
Finding purpose and place
Now entering her tenth year as our HR Manager, Cathy says she can’t imagine working for another organisation. She loves using her practical experience and her curiosity to achieve the best outcomes for our staff. And all the while, she’s felt completely supported to learn and grow as a professional.
“I love the people I work with. I have had a lot of jobs, with different managers and colleagues – but here, I’m truly working with my people. I am my genuine and best self, working in a place where I can see the value of my work. Working here has allowed me to grow a new skill I never knew I had. It’s changed and enhanced my entire life, and I know it’s my purpose.”
As she reflects on the past 16 years with us, Cathy acknowledges that by working to help others, she’s also learned about herself, and what drives her. She says she’s grateful to have found an organisation that has allowed her to work as independently as possible.
“It feels incredible to observe and provide effective, operational and clinical supervision that achieves real results. And I’ve learned so much here! I had an opportunity to say, ‘I need to know more.’ and CRC has supported me through it all. I’ve even finished my Diploma in HR. You can make this role your own, while supporting people to positively change their lives. What could be more rewarding than that?”