Meet Rebecca

News story
Rebecca is a Youth Custodial Officer at the Perth Children's Court.
Rebecca stands in front of the court

Yes, you have seen her face before. Rebecca often graces our TV screens during the sports news as a member of the Wallaroos squad. She has represented Australia at three Women's Rugby World Cups, helping Australia to finish sixth internationally in 2017.

But during her working day Rebecca is much less visible. She works in the depths of the Children's Court – part of a team of nine officers who care for the young people who are in holding cells before and after their hearings in the courts upstairs.

Rebecca is glad of a job she not only loves but that gives her time for the regular training she needs to do to make sure she remains one of the Aussie side's star second-rowers.

Team-work is one of the things she enjoys about rugby and her  job. She and her colleagues care for people who are at a crisis in their lives, with the decision in court making all the difference between freedom and detention.

"The young people in our care – and occasionally adults on historical charges or seeking custody of their children – are among the most vulnerable people in the community," Rebecca said.

"They're often highly emotional and angry and usually they don't fully understand what is happening to them. We have to escort them to and from the court without incident and stay with them in court.

"In the court room, we remain on high alert and watchful of any change in demeanour that could signal a problem. It's often hard when a young person's family are in court too and they aren't allowed to hug them."

Rebecca said she became interested in helping young people as a student at Edith Cowan University where she studied juvenile justice and criminology while a casual youth worker with the City of Wanneroo.

She applied for and gained a position as a Youth Custodial Officer at Banksia Hill Detention Centre where she worked for more than two years before moving to the Children's Court.

"Banskia Hill was a shock to begin with," she said. "Many of the young people come from such disadvantaged backgrounds. I loved meeting young people from all over the State and different cultural backgrounds.

"Some of the young people we deal with have seen me on TV and call me 'Rugby Miss' and most are interested in having a chat about sport, particularly AFL. I encourage them to get involved in sport too because it can teach you so much: discipline, respect and sportsmanship.

"I don't often talk to kids about myself, but occasionally, if I think it might help a young person, I'll tell them what I've been through, how I've overcome injury and stayed focussed even in hard times.

"I try to build a rapport with them and be a positive role model. You don't know what effect you have on them, but you do your best."

Rebecca said rugby had helped her remain calm in a crisis at work and to act as a team.

Page reviewed 13 February 2020