Employment and industrial frameworks, workforce management practices and culture will be scrutinised in a review of public prisons by the Public Sector Commissioner.
These are the three key areas identified in previous reviews as major constraints to operating the prison system more efficiently and implementing reforms.
With 7,000 adults in 16 public prisons and one private prison, WA’s prison system cost more than $1 billion in 2020-21.
The review is being undertaken alongside the Department of Justice’s ongoing process of looking at the design of the prison network, the resourcing needs and performance of each prison, and staffing and operations.
The Auditor General is also starting an audit of prison rostering including the use of overtime and entitlements.
The Commissioner will consider a sample of public prisons and make findings and recommendations on the changes needed in the identified areas.
The powers of the review are through section 24(b) of the Public Sector Management Act 1994, which allows the Commissioner to review the functions, management and operations of public sector bodies.
The Commissioner will appoint a consultant to assist in the review as occurred in the recent reviews of the Housing Authority, North Metropolitan Health Service and WA Commissioner in Japan.
As stated by Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston:
“With prisons expensive to operate, they must deliver services efficiently so taxpayers get the best value for money.
“Despite numerous reviews in the past and many recommendations, changes are just not happening.
“The Public Sector Commissioner has been asked to look specifically at the industrial and workforce practices and the culture of prisons that seem to be stymying progress and reform.
“This independent examination of the impediments is necessary to get to the underlying issues and identify practical solutions to deliver improvements.
“I understand that another review is wearying for the Department and for prison staff, but things need to change.
“This review will work closely with the Auditor General and Department of Justice to minimise any overlap with their respective work.”