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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2860 ..

ACT Policing continues to work with AFP colleagues to improve health services for its members. Eight champions within ACT Policing are working with the AFP to implement a new health model, known as SHIELD, which is due to be operationalised for ACT Policing members next year. SHIELD will see dedicated teams of clinical resources focused on building trust with staff, early intervention, preventing injuries and improving operational performance.

Much like first responders, corrections officers face mentally and physically challenging conditions on a daily basis. Many experience serious adverse effects on their wellbeing due to their complex and difficult work environment. It is essential that staff are able to easily access mental health support, particularly after a tough day on the job.

ACT Corrective Services has a number of mental health supports in place to assist staff experiencing trauma or stress. One of these initiatives is the ACTCS peer support program which is made up of approximately of 27 trained peer support officers, available across ACTCS. Their role is to support colleagues who may be dealing with employment-related or personal difficulties. This program fosters a positive and inclusive work culture.

The Alexander Maconochie Centre, or AMC, also has the standard TOAR, or talk, ask, listen, respond program, to help staff overcome stigma and other areas to seek mental health support.

To further promote mental health wellbeing and reduce the stigma of mental illness in the workplace, the “Road to mental readiness” managers training was recently delivered to ACTCS senior management. This training better equips managers to support staff members to get early access to care and ultimately improve their longer term mental health outcomes.

In December 2020 the oversight committee was established to develop the blueprint for change for the operations of the AMC and the CTU. The oversight committee will work on ongoing issues around training and development, also staffing levels, rosters and workforce culture, to develop a blueprint for change. A key focus for the oversight committee is to ensure all staff are trained to adequately perform their duties safely and effectively to reduce risk to both them and detainees.

Staff shortages can increase pressure on correctional officers. To alleviate this pressure, ACTCS welcomed 54 recruits through four recruit colleges in the last year. This includes the most recent 10 Court Transport Unit recruits, who completed their training in October 2021, further bolstering staff resources in ACT Corrective Services.

ACTCS is exploring a range of avenues to provide additional support for staff, including engaging with professional service providers for ongoing programs for staff. A senior director for workplace health, safety and wellbeing has recently been appointed to assist with strategic planning. This role is also responsible for the operational delivery of workplace health and safety functions and the development and implementation of staff wellbeing programs and initiatives. Since 6 August 2021, six peer support officers have completed a mental health first-aid course.

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