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Procedure Properties

Title: Programs for Offenders
Category: Offender Management
Version: 06
Implement Date: 30 April 2013
Application: Custodial Operations/Probation and Parole
Availability: Public


Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners - United Nations

  • Part I - Rules of General Application;
  • Section 58, 59, 65, 66.
  • Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia
  • Standard Guidelines for Prisons; Sections 31.-3.7, 3.10, 3.11, 3.13.


Healthy Prisons Handbook

  • Standards 26.3, 27.10, 28.5, 28.32.


Appendices and Forms

Accountability Standards

  • Accountability Standard - Program Facilitator Accreditation (in-confidence)
  • Accountability Standard - Standards of Documentation (in-confidence)
  • Accountability Standard - Program Integrity and Effectiveness (in-confidence)
  • Accountability Standard - Program Participant Enrolment (in-confidence)
  • Accountability Standard - Program Reporting (in-confidence)
  • Accountability Standard - Program Resourcing and Support (in-confidence)
  • Accountability Standard - Scheduling of Programs (in-confidence)
  • Accountability Standard - Supervision of Facilitation Practice (in-confidence)


Procedure - Programs for Offenders

2.Roles and Responsibilities
3.General Principles
3.3.1 Targeting Programs to the Needs of Priority Groups
3.4Program integrity
3.5Professional discretion
4.Program Governance
4.1Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) programs
4.2Non-QCS programs
5.Accountability Standard - Program Resourcing and Support
6.Accountability Standard - Scheduling of Programs
7.Accountability Standard - Program Participant Enrolment
7.2Specialised Assessment
7.3Program recommendations
7.6Exit from a program before completion
8.Accountability Standard - Program Facilitator Accreditation
9.Accountability Standard - Supervision of Facilitation Practice
10.1Program Integrity
11.Accountability Standard - Program Reporting
11.1 Program completion reports
11.2Pre and Post program assessment
12.Accountability Standard - Standards of Documentation
13.Program Evaluation


To ensure that referral to an offender program is appropriately targeted and based upon assessed risk and need and that offender programs are accredited, facilitated and managed according to best practice.

1. Definitions

For the purposes of this procedure -

Case Conference - formalised process of exercising professional discretion in assessing the appropriateness of making program referrals for offenders that do not meet the referral criteria but have significant criminogenic needs in the areas addressed by the program.

Criminogenic needs - aspects of a person or his or her situation that when changed, are associated with changes in criminal behaviour. Criminogenic needs are dynamic risk factors that become treatment targets.

Exit - point in the program at which the offender is no longer engaged in the program.

This may be -

  1. at the completion of the program;
  2. at the point which the offender is considered not suitable to continue in the program; or
  3. at that point in time the offender chooses to disengage.

Intervention Program - an Offender Program.

Non-criminogenic needs - are not instrumental to, or necessarily associated with, criminal behaviour. Non-criminogenic needs may benefit wellbeing or increase social responsibility rather than directly changing the likelihood of reoffending.

Offender Program - is a group based structured intervention that addresses the factors directly linked to the offender's offending behaviour.

Therapeutic Intervention - an Offender Program.

2. Roles and Responsibilities

Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services is responsible for -

  1. providing program development, training, practice support and facilitator accreditation for a range of programs targeting offending behaviour including violent, sex and general offending programs;
  2. ensuring quality of offender programs and their delivery, including program accreditation, monitoring of delivery against national standards of best practice and providing guidelines and support for effective program management and delivery;
  3. oversight of program delivery targets across sexual, violence and general offending programs to ensure Agency targets are delivered;
  4. development and monitoring of rehabilitation strategies;
  5. evaluation of the effectiveness of offender programs and subsequent program development and
  6. maintaining state wide waitlists for specialised assessments as well as sexual and violent offending programs.

Correctional Centres and Probation and Parole Offices are responsible for -

  1. ensuring delivery of offender programs meets agreed targets
  2. ensuring effective program delivery through adherence to standards
  3. ensuring effective use of Offender Management Processes to provide appropriate assessment and referral to programs

3. General Principles

This procedure relates specifically to the facilitation and management of offender preparation, intervention and maintenance programs.

Offender program selection and delivery must comply with the principles of effective intervention. Five of these principles underpin the Integrated Offender Management Strategy (IOMS).

Intervention programs consistent with the 'What Works' principles of risk, need, responsivity, program integrity and professional discretion have been found to be more effective in reducing recidivism than programs that fail to adhere to these principles.

The following are some of the offender program principles that have been shown to have the greatest impact reducing the likelihood of recidivism.

3.1 Risk

Offenders who are most likely to re-offend (i.e. those assessed at a higher risk) should be targeted for intervention. Intervention intensity should match re-offending risk with higher risk offenders receiving more intensive programming.

3.2 Need

Programs are more effective when they target specific offender needs related to re-offending risk. Intervention may be required to address 'non criminogenic' needs for the health and well-being of an offender (particularly for some priority groups such as female offenders, Indigenous offenders, youthful offenders and cognitively impaired offenders), however treatment in these areas alone is unlikely to have an effect on recidivism.

3.3 Responsivity

Responsivity refers to those issues, both static and dynamic, which impact upon or enhances an offender's ability to successfully undertake a program.

Programs should be designed and delivered using methods that encourage offenders to participate. Responsivity factors could include -

  1. an offender's characteristics, such as gender, age, culture, literacy and learning styles;
  2. motivation and readiness for change;
  3. intellectual functioning;
  4. medical needs and disability; and
  5. acute or chronic mental illness.

Obstacles that affect participation in a program should be identified and addressed wherever possible. Some obstacles, (for example motivation or literacy) can be addressed before the program commences. Literacy deficits should not preclude an offender from participating in offender programs. Referrals to education and support throughout the program may be necessary to support learning. Other obstacles, (for example, learning style) require flexibility in program facilitation and presentation. Some responsivity factors may be static and preclude an offender from undertaking particular programs, such as intellectual impairment or significant medical issues.

3.3.1 Targeting Programs to the Needs of Priority Groups

QCS recognises a number of priority groups that include:

  1. high risk offenders;
  2. women offenders;
  3. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander offenders;
  4. youthful offenders;
  5. offenders with a disability (including cognitive impairment, mental illness); and
  6. regionally specific offending groups.

Offenders in these groups may require different approaches to be taken in order to assist them in making changes to their offending behaviour and reduce the barriers to employment. This may include such activities as: preparation for employment program, Vocational and Education programs, literacy and numeracy and Offender Intervention Programs.

Some programs are specifically targeted for individuals from priority groups. For example, the Inclusion Sexual Offending Program targets offenders with cognitive impairment (eg those individuals whose level of literacy, abstract thinking skills and/ or other disabilities prevent them from participating in other programs). Due to the needs of individual group members, facilitators may be required to provide additional individual assistance to support some group members and/ or conduct a session more than once.

Prisoners with impaired cognitive functioning should have access to all mainstream sex, violence, drug and alcohol programs where their level of functioning permits. Prisoners from this priority group should be offered additional support to match their level of functioning, with programs adjusted to ensure active participation.

Statistical information about prisoners from priority groups (including prisoners with cognitive impairment) should be collected, collated and reported. This information will contribute to informing program development, monitoring and evaluation.

Refer appendix - Guidelines for Delivering Programs to Offenders who Require Assistance

3.4 Program integrity

Programs should be delivered as intended, by appropriately accredited facilitators.

To maintain program integrity, facilitators must adhere to the intended -

  1. program approach and theoretical model;
  2. duration of the program;
  3. frequency of sessions;
  4. assessed learning outcomes; and
  5. target group.

Mandatory facilitator training, supervision and regular monitoring support the maintenance of program integrity.

3.5 Professional discretion

Professional discretion refers to the careful use of professional judgement and discretion when assessing an offender for therapeutic interventions. The use of professional judgement to override actuarial information in exceptional cases can improve the accuracy of assessments and subsequent recommendations. The reliance on quality professional discretion in assessing an offender for program suitability, program outcomes, addressing responsivity and program facilitation, highlights the need for practice supervision in maintaining a high standard of program delivery.

Advice relating to the recommendation of offenders for programs can be sought from the Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services. For program recommendations relating to violent or sexual offending outside of program referral criteria, case conferencing should be utilised as the method for determining an offender's placement on a program.

4. Program Governance

Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services is responsible for the co-ordination of program governance systems and processes. These systems and processes are based on the principles of effective intervention. Governance processes include program accreditation, accountability standards which outline the expected standard of program delivery and management, site monitoring and regular performance reporting. Oversight of these processes occurs through the Board of Management.

4.1 Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) programs

All QCS programs must receive endorsement from the Offender Programs and Services Accreditation Panel.

4.2 Non-QCS programs

Programs other than those delivered by QCS staff may also require endorsement from the Offender Programs and Services Accreditation Panel.

Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services can provide advice regarding program accreditation.

Refer appendix - Offender Programs and Services Accreditation Process; appendix - Application to Provide a Program or Services

5. Accountability Standard - Program Resourcing and Support

All QCS offender programs must be resourced as specified in the relevant program manual.

Refer Accountability Standard - Program Resourcing and Support (in-confidence)

6. Accountability Standard - Scheduling of Programs

A program schedule must be developed by each site based on program completion targets endorsed by the Board of Management.and submitted to Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services for endorsement.

Any changes to endorsed schedules must be submitted to Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services.

Refer - Accountability Standard - Scheduling of Programs (in-confidence)

7. Accountability Standard - Program Participant Enrolment

7.1 Assessment

Effective offender management requires a thorough assessment process to ensure that an offender is referred to programs and services appropriate to their level of reoffending risk, need and responsivity.

Higher risk offenders identified using the Risk of Re-Offending (RoR) must be assessed using the Offender Risk Needs Inventory - Revised (ORNI-R) assessment to determine their general criminogenic needs and responsivity.

Refer procedure - Assessment

7.2 Specialised Assessment

The STATIC99R and STABLE2007 must be utilised as specialised assessment of sexual offenders to determine their level of sexual re-offending risk, treatment needs and responsivity.

Staff administering specialised assessments must be appropriately trained in the specific assessment tools via Agency-endorsed training.

7.3 Program recommendations

Offender program recommendations must be made through the Offender Rehabilitation Plan (ORP). Recommendations must be in accordance with appendix - Intervention Pathways for High Risk Male and Female Offenders.

Recommendations for sexual or violent offending programs which deviate from these criteria must only be made after consultation with Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services through the case conference process.

Refer - appendix Case Conference Template

In situations where an inappropriate program recommendation exists, changes must be made to the offender's plan through a review of the ORP, citing a rationale for the change in recommendation.

Refer procedures - Planning; Review

7.4 Waitlisting

Following a recommendation for program participation, an offender must be added to the program waitlist through the location window on IOMS. No manual databases are to be maintained.

If a decision is made to remove a program recommendation and the offender has been added to the program waitlist they must be removed through the location window on IOMS.

For sexual offenders serving over 12 months, the offender should be waitlisted for a specialised assessment upon initial reception to determine which program they need to complete. Upon completion of the assessment, the ORP should be updated to reflect accurate program recommendations for sexual offending programs.

The waitlist for specialised assessments and sexual offending programs are managed by Offender Rehabilitation and Management Service on a state-wide basis to ensure programs are accessed by offenders at the appropriate point in their sentence.

An offender should only be wait listed for a high-intensity program if -

  1. the offender is assessed through the ORNI-R or specialised assessment as being suitable;
  2. the offender meets the referral criteria for the program and it is in line with their treatment pathway;
  3. responsivity issues that cannot be addressed during the program have been addressed;
  4. it is an appropriate time in the offender's sentence.

Responsivity issues should be addressed prior to the waitlisting of an offender for an offender program, unless those issues can be addressed during the program. A Responsivity Tool is available to assist with identifying responsivity issues with an offender prior to program referral.

Refer appendix - Responsivity Tool

7.5 Participation

To inform the offender management process, participation in offender programs, including course schedules, program facilitators, enrolments and program completion status must be recorded in IOMS.

The General Manager of a corrective services facility may authorise a prisoner on protection to participate in a program with mainstream prisoners subject to suitability assessments of both protection and mainstream prisoners participating in the program. Consideration must be given to the Agency's duty of care to provide a safe environment for prisoners.

Refer procedure - Protection

7.6 Exit from a program before completion

Program completion reports are required for all offenders who commence a program, including those that exit before completion.

Offenders who engage in the pre program assessment phase and fail to attend the first program session may be exited from the course. In these instances a Program Completion Report is not required; however a memorandum must be completed advising of the circumstances.

Refer - Accountability Standard - Program Participant Enrolment (in-confidence)

8. Accountability Standard - Program Facilitator Accreditation

A program facilitator must have the required level of training prior to delivering a program.

Program facilitator training for the relevant program is mandatory and must be completed by program facilitators prior to the facilitation of the relevant program. In addition, inexperienced facilitators should be paired with an experienced facilitator if possible.

Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services is responsible for the co-ordination of program facilitation training and maintaining a register of trained facilitators for each program.

Refer - Accountability Standard - Program Facilitator Accreditation (in-confidence)

9. Accountability Standard - Supervision of Facilitation Practice

Regular supervision of program facilitation, including observation of practice and structured feedback is mandatory and must occur at the frequency designated by each program management guideline (refer Program Management Requirements (in-confidence)). All designated supervisors must have completed the required program facilitation and supervision training or equivalent, as well as having experience in program delivery.

Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services is responsible for the co-ordination of supervision training, and maintaining a register of accredited supervisors for each program.

Regular clinical monitoring will also be undertaken by Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services for sites delivering sexual and violent offending programs to ensure program integrity is maintained and to support management of complex cases within program protocols. Clinical monitoring does not replace requirements for each site to undertake regular supervision of programs.

In courses where participants identify with the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture, a cultural advisor should be identified to assist with program implementation, delivery and support. This advisor may be a QCS employee (i.e. Cultural Liaison Officer) or other appropriate person associated with QCS (i.e. Indigenous Elder, Community Justice Group member).

Facilitators of sexual and violent offending programs are required to attend six monthly sessions with the Agency's employment assistance program to ensure wellbeing and encourage self care strategies.

Refer - Accountability Standard - Supervision of Facilitation Practice (in-confidence)

10. Accountability Standard - Program Integrity and Effectiveness

10.1 Program Integrity

All programs should be delivered as intended, including adherence to the theoretical model and facilitation approach outlined in the program manual, duration, frequency of sessions and delivery of all core modules or elements.

Supervision should actively support the maintenance of program integrity. Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services will conduct regular monitoring to ensure program integrity is maintained.

Program completion reports and relapse plans should identify behavioural and attitudinal change which provides evidence that a program is achieving individual level outcomes.

All efforts should be taken to retain offenders on intensive groups to reduce the potential negative effects (on individuals) of dropping out.

Refer - Accountability Standard - Program Integrity and Effectiveness (in-confidence)

11. Accountability Standard - Program Reporting

11. 1 Program completion reports

A Program Completion Report must be prepared at exit of the program, for every offender who commences a program. This includes those offenders who fail to complete. This report must be structured as provided by the relevant template on IOMS or as specified by the program manual (refer - Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services).

Program completion reports should be made available in a timely way ( within 4 weeks of program completion) to inform the planning and review process, and particularly to identify where any outstanding treatment needs exist.

11.2 Pre and Post program assessment

Pre and post program assessments will be utilised to monitor the effectiveness of programs, and must be administered to offenders participating in programs.

Staff administering pre and post program assessments must be competent in the assessments.

Pre and post program assessment data must be forwarded to Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services for recording on the Offender Program Assessment System (OPAS). In instances where an offender exited the program and did not complete the post program assessments, the pre program assessments must be forwarded for recording on the OPAS.

Refer - Accountability Standard - Program Reporting (in-confidence)

12. Accountability Standard - Standards of Documentation

All relevant program documentation and data, including pre and post testing, must be recorded and stored as outlined in - Accountability Standard - Standards of Documentation (in-confidence).

13. Program Evaluation

The Offender Programs Evaluation Framework identifies the methodology that will ensure QCS is able to -

  1. establish a process to enable sustainable and credible offender intervention program evaluation;
  2. produce timely and relevant offender intervention program evaluation reports and data; and
  3. assess that offender intervention program practices reduce recidivism, mitigate re-offending risk and are consistent with the evidence for effective programs.

Components of the three-stage offender program evaluation strategy include -

  1. program integrity (adherence to 'What Works' principles as measured by site monitoring of Accountability Standards);
  2. short-term impact (change in assessed recidivism risk - through pre and post testing); and
  3. long-term effectiveness (program impact on recidivism rates).

Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services must conduct visits to delivery sites to monitor adherence to Accountability Standards. These visits will be conducted on a six monthly basis for sites delivering sexual or violent offending programs and on an annual basis for all other sites.

A report of visit findings and recommendations must be forwarded to the relevant service delivery manager and site manager for an initial response, and if appropriate, action plan.

The report and action plan must then be provided to Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services for endorsement and comment.

Offender Rehabilitation and Management Services and Operational Support Services are jointly responsible for the evaluation of offender intervention programs.

Refer appendix - Offender Programs Evaluation Framework

Endorsed by:


Executive Director, Specialist Operations

Approved by:

Marlene Morison

Version History

14/08/2012 Version 05 - 06/06/2012 Version 04 - 17/07/2008 Version 03 - 04/12/2006 Version 02 - 28/08/2006 Version 01 - 01/07/2001 Version 00 [Offender Programs]