Treasury Horrendously Miscalculates Prison Budget

Friday 09 Oct 2020

The WA Prison Officers’ Union (WAPOU) says the WA State Government has once again turned
a blind eye to the needs of WA prisons, in today’s Budget.

The government’s extension of the State Wages Policy is an unnecessary slap in the face to all
front-line workers.

Our members, just like nurses, police officers, fire-fighters, transport and public service
workers, continued to work under pressure and unsure each day of what they would face
during the covid crisis.

The public were well served by our members and other front-line staff whilst subjected to
what they believed would be the last of four years of wage restraint. As a thank-you they have
been misled and mis-treated.

WA Correctional Services have been underfunded for decades, and in a budget all about
creating jobs, WAPOU is amazed Treasury has not taken the opportunity to address hundreds
of vacant prison officer positions in WA.

WAPOU Secretary Andy Smith said the McGowan Government had horrendously
miscalculated the funding that is needed to ensure prisons can run safely.

“Both the Department of Justice and Treasury has acknowledged that the number of prison
officers required to staff the West Australian prison system has been incorrectly calculated for
decades. This results in officers filling public service positions and shortages every single day
at every prison.

“Officers are required to work an incredible number of additional shifts over and above their
normal roster. Despite the flack they receive for this, it is necessary in order to keep the
community safe.

“Yet despite this acknowledgement, there is nothing in the Budget to address the severe
understaffing issues, it’s disappointing for our members and for the community.

“There has been no consultation or discussions with the union prior to this budget, and as a result the government has missed an opportunity to get ahead of this ongoing problem and fund prisons adequately.

“What’s worse is, the government is promoting this budget as an investment to ‘keep WA safe and strong’, with the announcement of an extra 800 police officers on our streets. This is a
welcomed announcement, but it needs to be assumed more officers on the beat will lead to
more prisoners in our jails.

“Where will these extra prisoners be taken? To overcrowded and understaffed facilities, which
is ultimately a danger to our members and the community as a whole.

“Prisons play a huge role in keeping our community safe, we need properly funded prisons,
which are staffed appropriately to ensure the justice system has somewhere to hold these
criminals,” Mr Smith said.

Media contact: Rebecca Munro 0418 962 542