Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk has dismissed opposition and union claims that her department is failing to deal with offenders appropriately and that community safety is compromised.
On the eve of the graduation of the latest group of Community Justice Service (CJS) recruits from the Department of Corrective Services’ Bentley training academy, Ms Quirk said staffing issues were being addressed.
“Recruiting staff is an issue in the current labour environment but the department is involved in a number of initiatives to address this situation,” she said.
“This group of 37 additional CJS officers, which will graduate tomorrow, highlights our success in employing more new workers to perform the vital role of managing Western Australia’s community-based offenders.
“They join the 102 CJS officers appointed in 2007 and the 97 appointed in 2006.
“An additional 48 officers are scheduled for training later this year and the department is engaged in recruiting more staff from both interstate and overseas.
“Available departmental figures show that between August 2006 and February 2008, 29 community corrections officers and eight juvenile justice officers terminated their employment with the department - representing a four per cent attrition rate.”
The Minister said figures from the department’s latest recruitment drive - which ended on Monday (April 21) - included 72 expressions of interest from people overseas.
“This is in addition to the more than 250 people who expressed interest in pursuing a Department of Corrective Services career in WA during our latest recruitment drive,” she said.
“As Small Business Minister with responsibility for State migration, I have actively encouraged the Department of Corrective Services to participate in the Small Business Development Corporation’s ‘Go West’ campaign, along with other agencies such as the WA police, health and education departments.
“Interstate ‘Go West’ and overseas skilled migration expos have already achieved excellent results and I expect their success to continue.
“Meanwhile offenders across the State will continue to be carefully managed and monitored while on community-based orders or parole.
“While the vast majority of offenders are allocated specific case officers, the remainder still have to report to their designated CJS office and comply with the orders of their parole or community-based sentence.
“It is important to note that these cases on parole or community-based orders are offenders who have been deemed by the courts, or the Prisoner’s Review Board to be suitable for release into the community.”
Ms Quirk said an agreement reached in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) last week between the department and the Civil Service Association had the practical effect of setting new workload benchmarks which offered more flexibility in managing workloads.
“Supervision of offenders in the community is a difficult task but we are constantly striving to improve our operations and procedures so that the system is more robust and that community safety is safeguarded to the best of our ability,” the Minister said.
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