Building on the move last year to provide structures and methodologies that strengthen its alignment with Government priorities, the Department has improved its internal structure, its external relationships and its capacity to deliver on future expectations.
Perhaps the most significant initiative for the year was the review of the Department’s business model, which involved considerable consultation with, and input from, senior managers across the State and on-going consultation with staff and stakeholders. The Deputy Director-General and I visited staff in area offices and correctional centres throughout Queensland to listen to staff concerns and encourage active participation in the process. This was followed by members of the Business Model Review Team visiting staff and inviting submissions.
The aim of the review was to ensure that the new approach to improved delivery of correctional services would be reflected and supported by a revitalised organisational structure. This new structure will enable front line staff to more effectively manage and supervise offenders, and engage them in interventions to achieve the best outcome for the community and deliver the Government’s priority of ‘protecting our children and enhancing community safety’.
While these big picture issues are crucial to the Department’s future performance, so too are issues surrounding the best practice approach to the daily business of containment, supervision and the rehabilitation of offenders.
In this regard the Department has formed a Program Accreditation Panel (PAP) to review our offender rehabilitation programs and services. Based on successful models used in the United Kingdom and Canada, the PAP will work towards improving the development and delivery of targeted interventions that will address offending behaviour and reduce recidivism among offenders when they are released to the community.
The Department is also drawing on its audit and operational expertise to report on the application of policy, procedure and practice in State-owned correctional centres. The recommendations of this audit will form the basis of a new performance management framework that will ensure accountability, transparency and consistency in decision making processes.
In terms of developing our relationships with other organisations, the Department has been actively pursuing and creating partnerships with other agencies within the Government’s criminal justice cluster. In this regard, a new partnership has been formed with the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to address the ‘interface’ issues that arise when respective staff are working closely together, as they do in policy, legislative and court environments. Trials to overcome some of the issues that arise in regional magistrates courts are already underway.
The Department has teamed with Queensland Health to review the delivery of forensic mental health services, with the aim of clarifying our respective roles and responsibilities and identifying areas that can be improved. Special focus has been given to Indigenous prisoners and prisoners with an intellectual disability.
The Department is also working closely with the Queensland Police Service to refine methods of information sharing and has developed an excellent working relationship with the Department of Emergency Services to enhance our capacity in dealing with emergency situations in correctional centres.
In terms of our own staff, the Department facilitated a workshop at which senior managers and 30 union delegates from across the State worked on the development of a proactive and professional relationship between the Department and the Queensland Public Sector Union (QPSU). This was followed by close and collaborative work with the QPSU to finalise a report into workplace health and safety, which made 41 recommendations based on concerns raised by custodial officers and others who have significant contact with prisoners.
The Department’s future is one of optimism and opportunity. Already, we have the most highly trained correctional staff in Australia and our focus on implementing integrated offender management practices and systems will enhance our opportunity to more effectively apply this professionalism, across all parts of the correctional system, on a daily basis.
Finally, I would like to thank our various partner agencies, stakeholders, community groups and other interested organisations and individuals for their contributions to our work during the year. Such organisations play a crucial role in helping us to prevent future offending through the maximisation of opportunities for offenders to return to society as law-abiding citizens. I look forward to continuing our work with them.