Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 5 August 2021) . . Page.. 2419 ..
ACTCS staff are well supported. I am sure the Assembly would agree that the range of initiatives I have outlined to enhance the wellbeing and mental health support for ACT corrections staff as well as initiatives currently being explored and developed put the ACTCS in a great position for continued change and refinement of their approach to enhance mental health support for staff.
Managing correctional centres in any jurisdiction in Australia is challenging, and the AMC is no different. As mentioned before, it is unfortunately not possible to remove all risks associated with a correctional environments and detainee escorts. However, ACTCS has a range of prevention and response strategies in place including: de-escalation training, which is part of the custodial recruit training to give staff tools to deflect anger and deal with behaviour in a manner that keeps aggression at bay; use of force training, which is a mandatory component of CO training and equips officers with a range of techniques to employ as required while taking into account the ACT’s human rights principles; and policies and procedures which detail various measures to minimise risks associated with escorts.
I reiterate my utmost respect and admiration for the way corrections officers have dealt with many challenging incidents over recent times and continue to do so in their roles every day. As a former PSO, I understand how challenging a role can be when you face potentially dangerous and unexpected situations each day. Our staff are dedicated and experienced, and I am very proud of them.
The incident during the hospital escort on 9 July this year was concerning and terrifying for officers involved. I commend the bravery of the corrections officers involved in the incident on the day. In response to this incident, the Inspector of Correctional Services is conducting a critical incident review. ACTCS is committed to working with the inspector to review the arrangements for detainee escorts to provide safety for correctional officers and support for their mental wellbeing. This work will form the government response to the inspector's report and this will include consideration of any additional measures or means necessary to increase the safety during detainee escorts as well as an appropriate risk assessment for each of the options identified.
I am confident that the implementation of further supports will contribute to the continuous improvement of the safety and wellbeing of all ACTCS staff. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (4.30): I also thank Mrs Kikkert for bringing this motion about the importance of the safety and wellbeing of Canberra’s correctional officers to the Assembly’s attention. As already noted, correctional officers experience serious and multiple adverse effects on their wellbeing due to their work in complex and difficult environments. On behalf of the Greens, I extend my gratitude to correctional officers for doing this difficult job and doing it well, and I thank them for their work.
Correctional officers play an essential role in the safe custody and rehabilitation of some of Canberra’s most vulnerable populations. Having easy access to professional counselling, debriefing and ongoing comprehensive mental health support is absolutely essential for our correctional officers, and I applaud and support all