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The Department of Justice has narrowly avoided industrial action by correctional officers after it came to the table with a reasonable solution to training issues at the Tasmanian Prison Service (TPS).

Jannette Armstrong, a spokesperson for United Workers Union (UWU) that represents Tasmanian correctional officers, said the proposal offered to restructure the training department to fix resourcing

“The resourcing problems had led to huge backlogs in mandatory safety training, and recruit training which didn’t meet regulation standards for vocational education,” she said.

The proposal included a commitment to resolve the mandatory training backlog within 12 months, resolve the qualification gaps and the appointment of an acting Superintendent to lead the
reorganisation project.

Jannette Armstrong said the Department could have saved itself a lot of trouble by making this commitment to fix the problems sooner.

“There were three damning reports released this year highlighting chronic overcrowding and understaffing and the dire need for continued training and development. The Minister for Corrections needs to do better, if you fail correctional officers you are failing vulnerable Tasmanians,” she said.

Wendy Harris, a UWU Delegate for TPS Training, said the Department needs to remember its duty of care to staff and inmates.

“The community rightly expects Tasmanian Correctional Officers to have appropriate quality training, delivered by qualified trainers to underpin the important role we have within the justice system. It’s up to us to provide a safe environment for staff and for prisoner rehabilitation,” she said.

“We met with the Minister for Corrections over a month ago to outline these same concerns and nothing was resolved. Members are so incredibly disappointed that it took the threat of industrial action and safety inspections to get a commitment to resolve the issues,” Wendy Harris said.