Prison officers who demonstrated enormous bravery and commitment during the 1998 Christmas Day riots at Casuarina Prison were given public recognition today.
Nearly 100 Casuarina Prison officers were presented with awards as part of the inaugural Prison Service Bravery Awards ceremony at Government House.
The inaugural awards were presented in four categories to 115 prison officers from throughout the State.
Attorney General Peter Foss said the actions of all prison officers on duty at Casuarina that day were commendable, but a number of officers showed bravery and commitment far beyond the call of duty.
Casuarina Prison’s Assistant Superintendent Training and Specialist Services, Jim Fisher, was presented with the Bravery Medal - the highest and most prestigious of all distinctions.
Only two Prison Services Bravery Medals have been awarded in 18 years.
In his absence overseas, Mr Fisher’s son Stephen was presented with the medal.
Mr Fisher led a small group of Emergency Support Officers and Casuarina Prison Officers to confront more than 100 prisoners armed with bricks, pieces of masonry, wooden stakes and metal bars, in a valiant attempt to regain control in one of the States worst prison riots on Christmas Day, 1998.
Without protective gear and armed with only a baton, Mr Fisher led the first charge against the prisoners in an effort to rescue fellow officers trapped in accommodation units and gain control of the situation.
Mr Foss said the courageous work of Mr Fisher and the men he led to confront the prisoners was the first and most significant step towards restoring control of Casuarina Prison.
“Jim Fisher put his life on the line that day - his actions demonstrating exceptional and conspicuous bravery beyond the normal expectation of his duty,” Mr Foss said.
Eleven other officers from Casuarina, who took part in a further bid to break up the large group of rioting prisoners, were presented with Meritorious Service Medals.
All officers were members of a riot formation that risked their lives in confronting the group of 100 or more prisoners armed with makeshift weapons. With the prisoners advancing on the administration area, the officers formed a protective line then advanced on the prisoners.
Mr Foss said their courageous actions in what was a fierce conflict was the critical final assault on the rioting group.
Certificates of Commendation were presented to 30 officers and Director General’s Letters of Commendation were presented to 56 officers for their roles in the Christmas Day riot.
The Attorney General said the efforts of all award nominees were inspirational and deserved praise.
Two Bravery Medals and 15 Meritorious Service Medals were awarded for acts of bravery dating back to 1982 while the Certificates of Commendation and the Director General’s Letter of Commendation were awarded for commitment and dedication displayed in 1998-99.
Media contact: Danielle van Kampen - 9321 2222