Ensuring a safe and respectful culture within Victoria’s prisons and correctional centres is essential for the wellbeing of both custodial staff and people in custody.
For custodial staff, this means a safe and healthy workplace that values integrity, reflects the diversity of the community, and supports staff to perform in their roles confidently and address any issues that may arise.
For people in custody, this means a safe and humane environment where all people can live free from racism, discrimination, bullying, abuse and victimisation, where individual needs and cultural connections are recognised and respected, and where psychological and health support is available if needed.
Supporting a culture of safety and respect
The Review will focus on two streams – the wellbeing and safety of custodial staff and the safety of people in custody.
In the first stream, the terms of reference direct the Review to look at a number of themes related to workplace culture:
- Addressing systemic behavioural and cultural challenges
Measures to address systemic behavioural and cultural challenges among and towards staff, impacting on staff wellbeing and safety. This includes examining behaviours such as discrimination, racism, sexual harassment and bullying as well as integrity issues and corruption, and understanding the impact of workplace stress, vicarious trauma and concerns for personal safety at work.
- Preventing and responding to behavioural and cultural challenges
The effectiveness and appropriateness of the systems and processes within the Department of Justice and Community Safety that prevent and respond to behavioural and cultural challenges to protect and preserve the wellbeing of all staff. This includes understanding staff confidence in and the effectiveness of reporting, complaints and disciplinary processes.
- Driving cultural change
Options to drive cultural change and promote appropriate behaviour that is consistent with a culturally safe and integrity-based corrections system, including options to address workforce skills and key capabilities. A workplace that values custodial staff, uplifts their capability and skills, and provides them with support will create better outcomes for both the workforce and people in custody.
- Cultural safety for the Aboriginal workforce
Measures to ensure appropriate and effective cultural support for Aboriginal staff. The Review will engage with Aboriginal custodial staff and community to understand and promote cultural safety, consistent with the principles of Aboriginal self-determination. This includes promoting a workplace for Aboriginal staff that is inclusive, respectful and free from racism and discrimination.
In the second stream, the terms of reference direct the Review to look at two key themes in how people are treated in Victorian prisons and correctional centres:
- How culturally safe Aboriginal people are when they are in custody
Connections to culture and family can help Aboriginal people feel safe and supported, even when they are in custody. Prisons and correctional centres should find ways to support Aboriginal people stay connected to their culture when they are in custody and to be free from racism, unfair treatment, sexual harassment, bullying or abuse. Aboriginal communities should be able to make decisions about how Aboriginal people are treated if they are in custody.
- How people are treated in custody
All people should be treated fairly and be safe while in custody. Some people in custody are at risk of being treated unfairly because of who they are – for example, women, LGBTIQ people, people with disabilities, older people, and people who speak languages other than English or who come from different cultural backgrounds. Prisons and correctional centres should have systems and processes in place to make sure all people are safe while they are in custody.