26 September 2023

Justice honoured for COVID management

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The Department of Justice has been recognised for the preparations in the Hakea Prison to deal and cope with the COVID pandemic,

The State’s main adult receival facility, Hakea Prison has the highest volume of prisoner movements of any custodial facility and faced a greater risk from the COVID-19 pandemic than many other facilities.

Reported by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services (OICS), the Prison was acknowledged for the “robust” infection detection and prevention measures it implemented and in relation to prisoner handover at reception, health screens and testing and hygiene and isolation protocols.

Corrective Services Commissioner Mike Reynolds said the community spread of COVID-19 ultimately impacted prisons and Hakea was hit hard in March with a peak of 220 positive prisoners.

“At the same time, hundreds of prisoners also had to be placed in isolation as close contacts,” Commissioner Reynolds said.

“But the comprehensive pandemic preparations undertaken by the Department’s COVID-19 Taskforce, Health Services and Hakea management around isolation, contact tracing and infection controls have served the facility well, and as of this morning there were only 15 positive prisoners there.”

He said he was pleased to report that no WA prisoners have needed hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19.

Commissioner Reynolds said that of the 21 recommendations in the OICS report, the Department supported, or supported in principle, 17, noted one and three were not supported.

He said that although many of the recommendations centred on mental health services, he welcomed OICS’s recognition of the “remarkable job” staff were doing at the prison’s Crisis Care Unit (CCU).

“The Department is doing its best to manage a challenging cohort of prisoners with significant mental health needs,” Commissioner Reynolds said.

“We acknowledge more needs to be done, and to that end have a number of initiatives underway or under consideration”.

The Department is also working to reintegrate its Health Services and Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs streams to enhance the quality of health service delivery for prisoners.

It said that looking ahead, acute mental health patients and the elderly and infirmed at Hakea will be transferred to a dedicated facility once the Casuarina 344 Bed Expansion project is completed.

Commissioner Reynolds welcomed the Inspector’s acknowledgment of the good culture and performance at Hakea’s Management Unit 1, where staff looked after prisoners “who had complex needs and were at times were highly volatile”.

Due to infrastructure limitations, Hakea’s population has been reduced to release the pressure on the accommodation units.

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