Better mental health support for AMC corrections staff needed


Shadow Minister for Corrections Elizabeth Kikkert will today call on the ACT Labor-Greens Government to better support corrections staff at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) by providing on-site counselling services.

Mrs Kikkert has spoken to long-term corrections staff, who have said that having access to on-site counselling following incidents at the AMC would be a valuable resource.

“This service would go a long way towards maintaining the mental wellbeing of employees who work in a high-stress and dangerous environment,” Mrs Kikkert said.

“Working at the prison involves a unique kind of pressure and stress, and when something goes wrong the government has a duty of care.

“Recent riots and the escape of a detainee have made the dangers and hazards associated with work at the AMC clearer than ever.

“A study conducted in Australia revealed that Corrections Officers (COs) reported the highest rates of psychological stress of any occupational group.

“The Inspector’s 2019 staff survey showed strong demand for stress and PTSD management training among AMC staff.

“Corrections staff are regularly transporting detainees and dealing with dangerous situations such as entering detainee cells that may contain concealed weapons while unarmed, contributing to high levels of stress, anxiety and PTSD. It’s clear that staff are not feeling supported by the organisation.

“The recent motion of no confidence against a senior manager at the AMC is a clear indicator that staff at the prison are not feeling like they are supported and listened to.

“The Corrections Minister has said he expects senior management at the AMC to listen to the concerns of staff. Well, it doesn’t get more senior than him.

"Staff have identified their needs, and the onus is now on the Minister to address them,” Mrs Kikkert concluded.