CORRECTIONAL OFFICER RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING
The Hon. JOHN ROBERTSON:
The Hon. IAN WEST: My question is addressed to the Minister for Corrective Services. Will he update the House on the recruitment and training of correctional officers?
I thank the Hon. Ian West for his question. It gives me great pleasure to report to the House on the success of the introduction of casual correctional officers within Corrective Services New South Wales. Employment of casual officers forms part of the Way Forward package of reforms. Since September 2008 Corrective Services New South Wales has recruited 234 casual officers, and a further 55 will graduate from the Brush Farm Corrective Services Academy in December this year. Their graduation will follow an intensive 11-week primary training course that will provide them with the same skills and training as those of any full-time correctional officer.
Casual officers clearly are having a positive impact on the operation of our prisons. The use of casual officers means that existing full-time correctional officers are not forced to work excessive overtime instead of taking much-needed time off. This allows Corrective Services New South Wales to strengthen its occupational health and safety commitment to its employees and ensures that sufficient replacement staff are available to meet full-time operational needs. Using casual correctional officers to fill unscheduled absences in lieu of overtime expenditure generates significant financial savings. The progressive introduction of casual correctional officers has provided Corrective Services New South Wales with cost savings that are estimated to be approximately $1.6 million for the 2008-09 period.
The ease with which these officers have entered the system and the outstanding contribution they have made is reflected in the fact that many of these officers now are moving from casual positions into permanent full-time positions. In August this year Corrective Services New South Wales circulated an expression of interest that invited existing casual officers to apply for permanent full-time positions. As a result of that process 39 casual officers have since been appointed as permanent full-time correctional officers at the Long Bay Correctional Centre, and 12 have been appointed at the Wellington Correctional Centre. Many of the officers that have been appointed to full-time positions at Wellington already were working there as casuals. It is pleasing that some casual officers have taken the opportunity to move to Wellington to take up their full-time positions. This helps to increase the centre's staffing numbers and also benefits the local community as well as the local economy.
The Hon. Tony Kelly:
According to the last census, there has been a 4.4 per cent increase in the local population, which is due to the jail.
The Hon. JOHN ROBERTSON:
I note the Hon. Tony Kelly's interjection. Despite the fact that these appointments occurred only recently, I am able to report some positive results. At Long Bay Correctional Centre I am advised that since the introduction of these extra officers the amount of overtime hours has been reduced by up to 30 per cent. I note that significant savings are being generated for taxpayers as a result of officers who have been redeployed from Parklea Correctional Centre to other centres since GEO commenced its operations.
These extra officers have meant that Corrective Services New South Wales has so far been saving up to $70,000 a day in overtime costs across the system. This means savings of nearly $500,000 a week or $25 million a year. These results show that the Government's reforms in corrective services are working. All in all, the Government's corrective services reforms will save taxpayers $60 million a year—$60 million that can instead be spent on the State's schools, hospitals and other essential services, delivering to the people of New South Wales the services that they expect of a State Labor Government.