Long Bay Prison Governor: Trust everyone “Just don’t trust the Devil within”

By Jordan Grantham, 10 October 2017, Canonisation of Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Patrick Aboud, Governor of Long Bay Correctional Complex. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

The Governor of Australia’s largest prison had a Parramatta childhood centred on the family fish and chip shop, the Parramatta Eels rugby league team, Parramatta Marist High School, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramtta and then, Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral, Harris Park.

Pat Aboud is now Governor of Australia’s largest prison, Long Bay Correctional Complex, protecting civilians and reforming almost 1300 inmates with his trademark toughness and concern for the well-being of others.

“Trust everyone,” Governor Aboud advised, “but don’t trust the Devil within.”

Governor Aboud has seen the worst of human nature. While most public defenders temporarily engage with criminals, Corrective Services NSW staff members deal with murderers, terrorists, paedophiles and violent offenders on a daily basis.

“And that’s just to name a few,” Governor Aboud said. “We face what the public fears.”

Danger and death are constant possibilities in this high-pressure job, which takes a serious toll on Correctional Officers and all staff.

“I’m proud of all the hardworking and decent staff we have with in corrections,” Governor Aboud said.

“Family, friends, colleagues and the job keep you going,” he said. “You need an outlet.”

“There are deaths in custody, there could be the possibility of losing a staff member, through depression, hostage siege, riots, and/or a critical incident” he said.

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Corrective Services NSW holds a Remembrance Day each November for officers and staff who made the ultimate sacrifice. This year the day is on Friday 24 November.

One officer the day commemorates is Geoffrey Pearce, who died at 29 years of age in 1997, after being stabbed with an HIV infected syringe at Long Bay Prison eight years prior.

It might seem a far cry from young Pat Aboud’s Parramatta childhood of family, faith and footy. The stereotypical images of altar boy and prison Governor could not be more different.

“Yeah, I loved Parramatta,” Governor Aboud said.

“We went to St Patrick’s Church with Mum and Dad and older and younger brothers.”

“Dad would lock up the shop and go to St Patrick’s.”

“Our Lady of Lebanon came online and we started going there. After the first year it opened, I was an altar boy at the first year procession.”

“I think society has lost that. The time of having family time, people sitting around the dinner table is gone. I’ve instilled with my kids.”

“We had footy every Sunday and I played on Saturdays for St Patrick’s Primary [Parramatta] and Parramatta Marist. I’m a staunch Parramatta supporter. We had that for 30 years there.”

“Church was the only time we’d all be together, apart from dinner each night.”

“I think society has lost that. The time of having family time, people sitting around the dinner table is gone. I’ve instilled with my kids.”

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“On top of that as they got older if their friends are around, they would come around, all have dinner on a Sunday night. And I say ‘put that time aside’.”

“It’s your faith at the end of the day, and the people you mix with, who get you across the line,” Governor Aboud said.

“You have bad days, good days. This is not an easy gig at the end of the day. You’re dealing with all facets of correctional management.”

“That’s one thing I learned, that family and friends are everything and I try to instill that now with my adult children.”

“It’s your faith at the end of the day, and the people you mix with, who get you across the line,” Governor Aboud said.

What is his advice to youth in the Diocese of Parramatta today?

“Respect society. Respect the law. Respect your elders. Strive for success. Don’t have the entire ‘new beaut’ things, all the bells and whistles. Be true to yourself, your roots, your upbringing,” he said.

Governor Aboud is still a parishioner in the Diocese of Parramatta, and continues to achieve all of the above. He has made his family, Corrections and the community incredibly proud.

Next week: Fighting crime takes a team: Corrections NSW’s unsung heroes

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