Documents obtained by NSW Labor under FOI show prisons across the state would be left at ‘high risk’ danger due to staff cuts being made by the Berejiklian Government’s so-called benchmarking reforms.
The risk assessments reveal experienced corrections staff and senior psychologists will be cut from prisons, forcing less-qualified staff to take on extra duties under the reforms introduced by Minister Elliott. This was confirmed last month by local MP Pru Goward in a speech to Parliament where she outlined exactly were the cuts would land at Goulburn Gaol.
The documents further state that changes to the staffing in NSW prisons could present a ‘high risk’ to their good order and security, as well as to the safety of inmates through suicide and self-harm (see images at end of release).
There is currently a Parliamentary Inquiry into Prisons which is examining the benchmarking process, prison security, the privatisation of Parklea and a series of corrupt events that have come to light during the investigation.
Shadow Minister for Corrections Guy Zangari says
"the Liberal-National Government is threatening the safety of staff in every prison and endangering inmates by reducing their access to mental health services through cuts to services provided by psychologists."
The Prison population has reached an all time high of 13,600 this year and the government's solution has been pop up prisons that have already been subject to riots, lockdowns and serious assaults on prison officers and prisoners.
In Goulburn, we have the toughest prisoners in the state.
There will be job cuts - the Assistant Superintendent ranks will be removed.
We need our prison staff to be well protected and able to come home to their families at the end of their shifts.
Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre will lose their Manager of Security – a move that has been identified a ‘high risk’ to the correctional centre. Despite this risk, Corrective Services NSW Benchmarking Team have informed the prison that the “management structure is not up for negotiation and cannot be included”.
Administrative staff on the South Coast will be forced to facilitate offender meal delivery while executive staff will be forced to perform additional intelligence functions outside of their usual job description.
Wellington Correctional Centre will lose 19 staff members in total, including all ten Assistant Superintendents.
Mr Zangari condemned Minister Elliott for cutting qualified and experienced corrections staff while expecting the remaining staff to work above and beyond their own duties.
These documents further prove that the Liberal-National Government’s obsession with cutting public services pose a very real risk to the lives of correctional officers, with up to 900 walking off the job in April in protest of the cuts.