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​Better trauma management increases safety for offenders and staff

Training has been boosted for Corrective Services staff managing and helping offenders who have experienced sexual and/or physical violence with a program developed with funding by the Department's Victims Services branch.

The Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) training package aims to change staff attitudes from "What's the matter with this person?" to "What's happened to this person?"

TIP was developed by the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC). Victims Services from the Department of Justice funded the MHCC to adapt it to meet the specific needs of correctional staff. It was recently trialled at Dillwynia Correctional Centre and from 9 December staff at Silverwater Women's will be trained.

Corrective Services, Assistant Commissioner Luke Grant told the gathering the training package is expected to reduce the time staff spend defusing conflict and disciplining inmates, as well as reduce stress and stress-related leave for staff.

"Corrections staff are exposed to incredible details of tragedy. Offenders often share their extraordinary stories which can be very difficult for officers to deal with," Mr Grant said.

"This will help staff support and engage with inmates to encourage them to follow a pathway towards positive change. Staff will learn to identify what can trigger memories of abuse and violence, and how to minimise this. This will help increase the safety of offenders, our staff and the community."

Female prisoners are significantly more likely to have suffered sexual and physical violence compared to the general population. Typically this begins early in life and can lead to complex mental health problems that affect their capacity to self-regulate, leading to drug misuse and other offending.

Dr Juanita Sherwood, Professor of Indigenous Education at the University of Technology Sydney, said that when trauma is not treated it gets passed down from one generation to the next. "I'm thrilled to see the Department rolling this training out. We will stop ignoring the historical trauma of Indigenous people," Dr Sherwood said.

The training package will be rolled out progressively across all female and male correctional centres in NSW.