A recruiting drive for new prison officers resulted in more than 900 expressions of interest in its first three days, Assisting Justice Minister Kevin Minson said today.
Mr Minson, who today congratulated 22 new prison officers on their graduation, said the Ministry of Justice needed 90 more officers to begin training early next year.
"The Ministry is looking for people with a mature outlook who have developed good communication and teamwork skills during the course of their existing careers," he said.
"Prison officers play an important role in helping reduce the recidivism rate of prisoners and, for the right person, it can be a rewarding and challenging position."
Mr Minson said 22 recruits who graduated at a ceremony in East Fremantle today came from a variety of working backgrounds.
They ranged in age from 22 to 51 and included former bus drivers, a tax consultant, shoe maker, park ranger, real estate agent, hospital orderly, labourer and security guard.
The officers would be stationed at Pardelup Prison Farm, the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison and Roebourne Regional Prison.
They had completed an intensive 12-week Ministry of Justice training course which involved three units toward a degree in Justice Studies from Edith Cowan University.
"Prison officers today play an important and ever-expanding role in our criminal justice system," the Minister said.
"While they receive comprehensive training in the security and control of prisoners, now, more than ever, they are skilled in many different areas ultimately designed to help reduce the recidivism of offenders and stop their return to prison.
"The graduates involved in today's ceremony have studied communication and conflict resolution and basic psychology and sociology. They are also trained to be on the alert for signs that a prisoner may attempt to harm himself or others."
Mr Minson said the responsibilities of prison officers now extended beyond basic custody and care, with a greater role in rehabilitation.
"Increasingly the work of a prison officer is becoming more focussed on helping prisoners return to the community with a range of new, meaningful and useful life skills," he said.
"The Ministry hopes to start training 90 new recruits early next year, for service throughout the State's 13 prisons."
Applications for the positions close on November 20.
Applicants are required to be physically fit for their age with no criminal record other than minor offences such as traffic infringements, etc. They must also pass an attitudinal assessment.
No formal education qualifications are required, but applicants must be literate and pass a TAFE-equivalent literacy and numeracy test.
Prison officers are required to work shifts with varied rosters and are paid competitive salaries.
Recruits will be paid a weekly training wage during their three-month course with the next round of training to start next months.
People interested in applying for a prison officer position should call (09) 476 0011 for an application pack.
Media contacts: Caroline Lacy 222 9211