WA community at risk from new government cuts to prisons

The Barnett Government’s announcement yesterday of a 2% funding cut to the Department of Corrective Services this year and further cuts of 3% over coming years puts the Western Australian community further at risk says WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary John Welch.

“These latest funding cuts combined with cuts of 3% over the past three years means prison sector funding has taken a significant hit at the same time as our prisons are overflowing.

“Treasurer Christian Porter says the cuts won’t affect frontline services.  As he should well know, we are already in the process of making significant efficiency savings in conjunction with the Department. We are concerned this further cut, on top of what’s already occurring, will have detrimental consequences to the safety and security of Prisons and Prison Officers.

“Prison Officers who perform a frontline role in keeping our communities safe by managing WA’s ever growing prison population. WA is currently experiencing a record prison population, currently at 4,949 inmates in a system designed for just over 3,500.

“When Mr Porter was Corrective Services’ Minister he happy to admit that WA’s prison system needed massive investment to cope with overcrowding and ageing facilities, yet three years later very little has been delivered,” said Mr Welch.

Yesterday’s announcement included news there will be a deferral of spending on a range of capital works projects across government, which puts in doubt plans to build a new prison facility in the Eastern Goldfields and much needed upgrades at other facilities around the state.

The WA Prison Officers’ Union have been working recently with the Department of Corrective Services to deliver budget savings that are safe through an internal staffing review but the Government’s latest cuts puts this process in jeopardy.

“The working conditions of WA’s Prison Officers are already difficult and now the State Government is adding an extra level of stress to these officers by cutting the Department’s budget,” said Mr Welch.

The Barnett Government needs to ensure these latest cuts won’t lead to a cap on Prison Officers as the prison population continues to rise to record levels.

For interviews contact: Stephen Dawson, 0419 045 200