The Government recognises that a confident, capable, well-supported workforce is the foundation of a corrections system that is safer for staff and people in custody.
As part of its existing Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the Department has significantly enhanced its support for the custodial workforce, including:
- An early injury intervention service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week following physical or mental workplace injuries;
- A new Family Assistant Support Scheme to help family members with challenges they may face related to a Department employee’s work; and
- The appointment of a Chief Psychology Officer (CPO) responsible for leading and implementing the direction of psychological care for the Department’s employees when providing clinical oversight to the delivery, quality and efficiency of its services.
This year, the Department will develop a Custodial Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan – and has engaged the Black Dog Institute to undertake a mental health audit within Corrections Victoria to inform this work. The Department will also ensure there are clearer responsibilities and support for leaders to keep workplaces safe.
The Review found evidence of bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment and racism among the custodial workforce, with women, Aboriginal staff, LGBTIQ+ staff and staff from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds disproportionately affected. These behaviours are unacceptable, unlawful and should not be experienced in any Victorian workplace.
The Department will implement improved complaints, misconduct and disclosure procedures, including corrections-specific guidelines for making a complaint or report about workplace misconduct. This will be supported by an ongoing communications strategy on expected workplace behaviours and values and how to report harm.
Supporting workforce capability and development
In response to the Review’s recommendations, the Department will develop a corrections workforce strategy, building on the work already underway. As part of the strategy, the Department will analyse training and recruitment models in other jurisdictions and uniformed professions, including options for establishing a Centre for Correctional Practice to inform future government decisions.
Ensuring our staff have the tools and training they need to do their jobs safely is critical. Improving recruitment, training and support for staff will take time, but a number of key actions will be taken this year.
A new senior leadership role – Assistant Commissioner Workforce and Integrity – will be established within Corrections Victoria to provide operational leadership in workforce, integrity and cultural reform.
In line with the recommendations of the Review, the Department will engage with the Victorian Public Sector Commission to undertake a work value assessment of the prison General Manager role.
The Review’s recommendation to review the content and completion rates of the Certificate III in Correctional Practice has been implemented through the Department’s obligations as a Registered Training Organisation – and will continue to be updated as required.
The Department will commence engagement with staff and key stakeholders to scope the development of an ethical decision-making framework for staff, acknowledging more must be done to support staff in the complex work they do.