Respect and trust in a human services organisation
: based on community corrections in the Northern Territory

  • Allan Van Zyl

    Student thesis: Professional Doctorate - CDU


    This thesis was originally focused on developing better linkages between the custodial and community corrections arms of Northern Territory Correctional Services that targeted better inter-links and engagement within urban, regional and remote communities.

    The thesis evolved during the research phases from the ‘mechanistic’ or simplistic to the ‘emotional’ aspects of management themes, resulting in findings that matters of ethics, trust and respect are more effective tools than simply understanding the rules and processes of government service delivery. There are lessons to be learnt from these emergent findings.

    The working environment in Australian workplaces over the last 150 years has been largely hierarchical and this frequently ignores issues of respect, trust, knowledge transfer and personal responsibility within a shared vision and targeted outcomes that are understood by all employees.

    Human relationships are keys to working together, yet many working relationships in the western world today are enforced relationships of people who may not actually wish to be in close contact. This has an impact on the personality conflicts and interpersonal relationships of workers in this 50 person Community Corrections system, especially when compared to the 550 person Custodial Corrections system.

    People employed as Prison Officers and Community Corrections Officers have different values at the time of recruitment. These differences must be explored and balanced soon after recruitment to ensure a system-wide approach.

    This thesis attempts to show how these relationships will improve efficiencies and effectiveness by re-thinking the way managers work with people and reducing the reliance on fear, compliance with rules and systems, while deterring independent thought and initiative. This research results in an emergent theory related to trust and respect that directly reflects the views of my co-researchers in this inductive approach.

    A ‘one correctional service’ cannot be achieved without respect and trust across the service being inclusive in all the staff relationships, and the total dismantling of the barriers that currently separate them. A stronger push to trust and respect building within the system should result in better crosssystem links and engagement with the community.

    This is a local impact of the theoretical data as it did not actually occur at the time of this research even though it widely accepted in practice. The outcome of this research could better align the Correctional Services’ system and improved human relationships with respect to respect and trust within the service.
    Date of AwardMay 2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMurray Keith Redman (Supervisor)

    Cite this