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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2418 ..


the motion and being able to achieve a consensus—a consensus that will ensure we can continue supporting the health and wellbeing of corrections officers and staff right across ACT Corrective Services.

I am pleased the scope of Mrs Kikkert’s motion is broad and allows for the exploration of options such as onsite counselling and specialised PTSD counselling. Recent events have highlighted the need to talk to corrections officers about what extra supports they need and to explore which options will be the best to help them access services conveniently and quickly when they need to.

Wellbeing and mental health support should be enhanced both for correctional officers and all other ACT Corrective Services staff. As I have mentioned, this has been a key focus for me since taking on the corrections portfolio. While there is still work to be done to improve services, I assure the Assembly that ACTCS already has a variety of initiatives in place in development. These include the ACTCS peer support program, which has made approximately 27 trained peer support officers available across ACTCS. These officers provide support to their colleagues in coping with employment-related or personal difficulties or during times of potentially high emotional impact, such as after incidents. The implementation of this program also continues to be supportive and positive and it is helpful towards a work culture that fosters inclusiveness.

The Stand TALR program encourages staff to overcome stigma and barriers they may face when coming forward and seeking support for their mental wellbeing. The Road to Mental Readiness—Managers training is another example. It was recently delivered to ACTCS senior management to promote mental health, reduce the stigma of mental illness in workplace settings, and better equip managers to support staff who may be experiencing mental health problems. The first program of the Road to Mental Readiness—First Responders is being delivered and it aims to improve long-term mental health outcomes and encourage early access to care. There is also access to the employee assistance program we heard Mrs Kikkert mention earlier, which offers a choice of counselling and support services to all staff.

As members are aware, I have appointed Ms Christine Nixon as the independent chair of the blueprint for change oversight committee. An urgent focus of the committee has included training to ensure staff are adequately equipped for all of their duties. In addition, ACTCS welcomed 22 recruits earlier this year, which is alleviating staffing pressures. ACTCS is currently advertising for correctional officers to commence its training course in October. A further 10 Court Transport Unit recruits recently started their 12-week training course and are scheduled to graduate in October.

Finally, ACTCS are exploring a number of avenues to provide additional support for corrections officers, including engaging with a professional service provider for ongoing programs for staff. I understand that meaningful conversations are taking place on these issues, and I thank our new commissioner, Ray Johnson, for this good work.

The health and safety of every ACTCS employee is one of the most important things that I have been striving for. I acknowledge there is more work to do to ensure


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