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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2414 ..

Alexander Maconochie Centre—staff health and safety

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.12): I move:

(1) notes that:

(a) recent events reaffirm that correctional officers (COs) work in dangerous and sometimes life-threatening environments;

(b) over the past 12 months, there have been three serious fires at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), one escape, and other dangerous encounters between detainees and COs;

(c) in a 2007 Australian study, COs reported higher rates of formal psychological stress claims than any other occupational group;

(d) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in COs is linked to threats of violence and actual injuries;

(e) COs at the AMC are at times not armed with defensive equipment;

(f) depression and anxiety are linked to low levels of perceived support, and AMC staff have reported no confidence about some aspects of ACT Corrective Services (ACTCS) senior management while also welcoming the new commissioner;

(g) other international studies show high prevalence of mental disorders and PTSD among COs;

(h) a 2019 staff survey at the AMC showed that:

(i) 82.5 percent wanted more stress management training;

(ii) 77.7 percent wanted training in how to deal with PTSD or trauma;

(iii) 62.1 percent wanted confidential links to counsellors or therapists; and

(iv) 52.4 percent wanted online or digital resources related to health and wellbeing;

(i) detainees have access to on-site counselling, but COs do not;

(j) research shows that early intervention following a traumatic event greatly reduces levels of post-traumatic stress reaction; and

(k) the existing peer support officers do quality work to support corrections staff; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) enhance wellbeing and mental health support for ACTCS staff, including COs, and explore options such as an on-site PTSD and trauma specialising counsellor;

(b) as part of the Government’s response to the inspector’s report, review the policy which governs whether COs are unarmed during escorts;

(c) report back to the Assembly on the progress of the initiatives as part of the Government’s response to the inspector’s review of the 9 July 2021 incident; and

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