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Episode 62 – Yolanda |A story of a former police officer who works for community corrections.

Updated: Nov 4, 2022


In this episode, you will learn 10 FACTS about Yolanda, how she worked as a police officer first, dealing with a lot of domestic violence cases, and then moved to correction services. You will also hear a fun story about how policemen play hide and seek on night shifts.

You can READ the interview transcript HERE


10 Facts About Yolanda

(at the time of the project)

1. 57 years old.

2. Yolanda is from Holland. So, she’s Dutch. She came to Australia when she was four.

3. Yolanda is the first-time grandmama of an almost two-year-old grandson. She has three children and two stepchildren.

4. Yolanda is in her third marriage. And this is her best marriage.

5. She used to be a police officer for about 20 years. When she was 12, she knew she wanted to be a police officer. That was her dream. She was a street police officer. And she was also for about 10 years, a trainer in the police academy as a weapons instructor.

6. Now Yolanda works for community corrections, which is like a parole officer. But as a manager of officers in regional New South Wales. She's been doing this job now for about 15 years.

7. Yolanda is really passionate about her faith. She was always a Catholic, but moved to the Christian faith and was reborn.

8. Yolanda is really passionate about women too. She spent a lot of time in the courts as a domestic violence officer. And when it comes to women, just having that special acknowledgment of who they are, brings joy.

9. The biggest challenge at this age – “Just the body not doing what it used to do.”

10. Positive change with age – “Just growing into myself. I feel so liberated - this sense of freedom and this sense of achievement. I can be anything that I want to be.”

Watch Yolanda’s VIDEO interview HERE




Hi, you're listening to My Body My Story podcast.

We used to play hide and seek on night shifts in the city in the in the police cars and Kings Cross if it was a quiet night like Tuesday night, we used to get on the police radio and get each other to you know, go, go hide and we'll come and find you.

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Hi, everyone, and welcome to my body. My Story project today with us Yolanda in the studio. Oh, hi, Yolanda.

Hi, Aleksandra.

Welcome to the studio. Welcome to the project. And while you're sitting in the makeup chair, and Nicole is doing makeup for you. I'll be asking you a few questions. So tell us a bit about yourself.

Well, I'm 57 years of age. I don't know why I start with my age. But yeah, I'm loving where I'm at the moment with my age. So I am a first time grandmama an almost two year old grandson. And I have three children and two stepchildren. I'm in my third marriage. And this is my best marriage. I love it so far. And I absolutely feel like it's a forever relationship, which is awesome. I'm uh, I work for community corrections, which is like a parole officer. But as a manager of officers so i Manager An office at the moment in regional New South Wales morning. Yeah, I used to be a police officer for about 20 years, but I've been doing this job now for about 15 years. So yeah, I feel like I'm, I feel like I'm working in a field that honours who I am as a person. Yeah, building leaders, you know, growing leaders, I should say. And, and yeah, just bringing the best out in people who would probably see themselves as not something who they are. So. Yeah, I'm an encourager.

It's a long time career in this field. Yes. So it's very interesting. I want to ask you so many questions on how to be a police officer. And you know, how did you come up with this idea to become a police officer? And was it like, challenging or it's more routine work?

I have a unique gift, I suppose of knowing and when I was 12. I knew I wanted to be a police officer. I actually, my, my history is I come from Holland. So I'm Dutch. I came here when I was four. But unbeknownst to me, because, you know, we have a very large family. My father and my mother have both some, you know, 20 children in their family. So very big family, we could never get to know you know, any of them. We were the only ones here in Australia. But unbeknownst to me at the age of 12 I, you know, I knew I wanted to be a police officer. That was my dream. And but I actually have police officers and Guardian guards, you know, official guards that are part of my family in Holland. So yeah, so it's actually well, when I found that out, I was like, no, no wonder I'm doing what I'm doing. A challenging role. It was almost like I was trying to reach my personal best being, you know, getting to that because I had had actually failed my schooling. And by that, I mean, I didn't pass my HSC I failed dismally. And, but I still got to do what I wanted to do because I persevered. I continued to push for what I wanted in my career, and really, it pushes you beyond your boundaries beyond your comfort zones. I was a street police officer, so not behind a desk. And I was also for about 10 years, a trainer in the police academy as a weapons instructor.

So you know how to defense yourself, your family for sure.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I've had to do that a couple of times. Yeah. In my life. It's sort of another story that's rather in contrast to my work. But yeah, I loved him. I loved being a police woman. But after 20 years, I was actually suffering and, and always questioning to like, Oh, what, how can I influence these people who I'm arresting. And actually there was a defining moment in my, my career as a police officer that allowed me to understand where I needed to shift in order to be the true person that I am i which is an encourager, someone who believes more in people than nice, they think of themselves. Yeah. And this, this role is very much been about that. Whereas policing is very punitive. You know, like, you're arresting people. Yeah. And sending them in before the courts for justice in front of you. So that justice is served kind of thing.

So you're dealing already with consequences

That’s right? So, so So then moving into Corrections is very much dealing with behaviour change

Do you have any interesting or dangerous story you can tell us? Or like some episodes, you remember the most from your career?

As a police officer? Um, I think, yeah, I do have a couple. Yeah, there's so many. But sad ones, as well. So I specialised in domestic violence. And the irony of that was I was I was experiencing domestic violence myself. So. So that's where you know, the realisation for it's like an awakening. It's like, Hey, hang on a minute. I'm actually in that myself. So yes, you know, sort of a sense of connection with that. But yeah, I was a police officer in the 80s. And that was very naughty time for a lot of police and very corrupt. And, yeah, really dangerous time as well, depending on how deep you are in corruption. So not that I was, I was very much against it. But I think because I was against it. I was, you know, sort of in danger. Yeah, yeah, as well. So, you know, those sorts of stories are things that I really can't, you know, disclose without putting myself in a space where, you know, I'm revealing things that you probably shouldn't ever really know. And I've worked all over the place. So here in the city was one of my favourite places to work and Manly.

But was it quiet or..?

Busy, it was really, really busy. But we made our busy as well. And by saying, mate, we made our busy, we used to play hide and seek on night shifts in the city in the in the police cars, and Kings Cross if it was a quiet night, like Tuesday nights is generally a really quiet time on night shift. And we used to get on the police radio and get each other to you know, go hide, and we'll come and find you, you know, so they would, you know, go hide in the city somewhere, some laneway or whatever. And we would race around the city with each other. Yeah, yeah. Trying to catch each other. Yeah. And so there's sort of fun times, but you know, probably inappropriate as well. Just to keep you awake and, but you were also being very proactive as well, because you ended up finding things in places where if you were hiding someone's like, what they doing that, you know, I ended up with a few arrests because they were doing things that they shouldn't have been doing so exciting. Yeah, really exciting, fun. Dangerous, and yeah, yeah, I think the tipping point for me like I said was domestic violence I remember going to I was working in the country and I'd have done most of my stuff in the country was one too many domestics and got very very over the top with having to arrest this person struggling with arresting this person and putting myself in danger as well. So you know, firearms, you know, that kind of thing. And that's a really dangerous position to put yourself in. And you know, for the potential for bad outcomes, but luckily it didn't and for me, you know, when you when you push to a point like that, and you break down in tears, you know that that's a moment where you're, Hey, hang on a minute. I need to fix that chain change it. Yeah. Yeah, so that was that was a turning point for me career wise, but also my family. Why that the time yeah, my relationship to it. And because that was really, really toxic.

And what do you think the main reason of this kind of behaviour? Why people do that being violent towards the close ones? Is it drugs, alcohol? Or it's just like..

No, it’s Control?

Control issues?

Yeah, it's power and control to people are, you know, people are trying to control things within the relationship that they probably are fighting against, or they're both up against and

So it’s psychological more.

Yeah, you have very psychological and very, very controlling behaviours. Yeah, yeah. And then, you know, one party not having the locus of control and you know, perhaps allowing things to happen that they probably would not under normal circumstances, be faced with or to put up with. Yeah, yeah. But, yeah.

So and then you moved to correction,

then I move to corrections. Yeah. And a huge, like, personal growth, opportunity, as well. Because whilst you're learning about the, you know, the intricacies of the people that we manage, that you're learning a lot about yourself as well. So yeah, it was a huge personal growth trajectory, too. So that was, you know, sort of a, a time in the beginning of very much a time where I knew I was on the right track as far as my own personal growth was concerned, but also what I could contribute for people about, you know, around their own change. So, being a life coach was something that I delved into, in my current role as well. So personally, I sought study as a life coach, because that was my own personal growth, too, with a view to starting my own business, but never got that far. I sort of did but didn't pursue it.

Maybe not yet.

Not yet. Perhaps that's right. Perhaps that's right.

So can you explain to me like what is this is.. because I still cannot understand it completely. The correction. Do you work with people who already committed this crime of abusing others? Or they been once called and put on what you call it? parole or

court orders? Yeah. Yeah. So you got court orders? Or they you've got a sentence, which brings you to jail, and then come out of jail. So both. So yeah, being in both areas where very much in the community, so where people are on community orders, but dealing with people as they come out of jail on parole. So I've also worked in the jails as well.



So you make sure that they don't do it again?

Well, we can never guarantee that. Yeah, no, it's more about having conversations. And in you're encouraging them to seek help around their behaviour change. So finding, identifying what it is that brings them to that crazy point, and then referring them to people who can help them but also us having those discussions and that that ongoing preparation for change.

Do you think? Because you said your work to do jail as well? Do you think, really, the jail helps people to rethink what they do? Or it's more of a punishment for what they did? And because that's always been my big question. And I wish George was here, because he's really interested in this subject here research. Yeah, he researches that jail, subjects a lot. And it's been always my question, does it really help to correct people or just the act of justice, like you punished, and here you go,

I think, you know, that, traditionally, it's always been an act of punishment, that jail has been there to contain, especially the dangerous ones. You know, most people, you know, will, you know, most people are good people, but there are some, and it really is only a very small number, that are committed to committing crime, you know, that's their thing. And that takes a long time to, you know, grow out of, I suppose. But no, it's not the answer. It's not the only answer. Jail is just a timeout, I believe, but I think the jails are changing now, too. So as part of this whole, there's a whole shift in thinking around that and it's, you know, the research that's been done overseas that has seen In a shift in punishment, or jail as punishment, and you know, that there's different ways of doing things. So we're doing programmes in jail now, the custodial officers are now having those conversations that we're having in the jail now, too. So it's becoming a language and a behaviour of the system. That's changing. Yeah, and there's alternatives to sentencing now. So you know, alternatives in sentencing. So it's not just jails. So if you meet a certain criteria now, and you have capacity to, to do things differently, the courts can administer their sentencing a little bit differently now to enable those other therapeutic opportunities to occur outside of the prison system. Look, there's a long way to change, but it's a good opening. Yeah, it's a good start now.

It's very interesting.

Yeah. And, you know, I've met some really, really dangerous people. But, you know, I guess I'm the kind of person that tries to see the good in everybody. But like I said, there's probably, you know, 2% that require jail. But not only that, they need, you know, intensive treatment, and psychological intervention treatment, to dissuade from behaviours that are very, very hard, especially when it comes to children.

Yeah, yeah. I agree. Yeah. Children. That's, yeah, very, very sensitive subject.

Yeah. Yeah, very much. So.

So I know, we spoke a lot, your career and everything, but maybe we didn't mention something else. What are you most passionate about? Or you just want to wrap it up? If it's the same subject?

Well, it seemed like sort of relates, I suppose. Yeah. Look, I'm really passionate about my faith. It's something that's always been part of my life, but in the last 10 years has been very much in my focus. And that's like, been part of my personal growth journey as well. Being a Christian woman. I was always a Catholic, but it moved to, to the Christian faith and be reborn being reborn. So it's really, that's a really amazing awakening. For me. I wished I had have like, captured earlier on in life. I was very like I was, I was a Catholic girl, and very reverent, like, I went to church every Sunday, I had, you know, certain issues with my faith in my faith back then, because it was so contradictory to society and whatnot. And so I left when I got married the first time, I didn't pay attention to it. And that that happened for a number of years, probably probably about 10 - 15 years. And then when that second my second marriage broke down, that was what I went back to. So I knew that that's where I needed to be in order to, to just fulfil my need around my spiritual journey. Yeah, so that's something I'm really I'm really, I really love my church, especially the one in Wagga where I spent a lot of time. I spent a lot of time investing in being around faithful people and having, you know, influence for people to understand their own spirituality. And, yeah, and that's carried through to my little town that I live in now in Glen Innes, and we have a little church and I'd like to introduce some things that really, I'm actually really passionate about women too. I think that's part of my domestic violence kind of thing. Because I spent a lot of time in the courts as a domestic violence officer. And when it comes to women, you know, just having that special acknowledgement of who they are. Is one of my one of my favourite quotes is Psalms 139 14, which is, you know, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And I stand by that. Sorry,

no, it's very, very emotional. I'm so happy that you.. I see our conversations also is a journey