STAFF at four Juvenile justice centres across New South Wales walked off the job on Sunday, following two violent attacks on officers over the weekend.
Officers at the Cobham, Frank Baxter, Acmena, and Riverina juvenile justice centres stopped work under the Work Health and Safety Act.
Troy Wright, acting general secretary of the Public Service Association, said workers were hugely frustrated by the NSW government’s failure to address staff and detainee safety.
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“Not a day goes by when there isn’t some kind of violent incident across the state in these juvenile justice centres,” Mr Wright said.
In the latest string of violence an officer was assaulted at the Frank Baxter Centre Friday, while at Cobham on Saturday an officer (pictured) suffered a broken nose, eye socket and concussion after being punched eight times by an offender.
“For two-and-a-half years we have been calling for therapeutic units within the centres, to not only help the officers manage high-risk offenders, but to improve rehabilitation opportunities.
“Instead the department moves high-risk offenders around the state. Every juvenile justice officer knows that it could be them on the end of a punch, spat on or attacked.
“We have raised this issue repeatedly with the government and department. In April we wrote to Michael Coutts-Trotter, calling for the implementation of therapeutic units, but he never replied.
“Why is it the only time safety concerns from officers are heard when they’re forced to take action?
“Our members are incredibly frustrated by the failure to introduce measures and resources that recognise what is required to safely manage high-risk detainees.
“What does it take for this government to get serious about the state of juvenile justice in NSW?”
Juvenile Justice workers and the PSA have long been warning that rising violence in the centres is fuelled by a lack of investment in training and proper rehabilitation facilities for offenders.
“Our members want to help these kids, they want to break the cycle.
“The last thing they want to see is them going up the road into Long Bay or Cessnock. But to stop that they need preventative measures in place.
“The government needs to address the cause of the violence, and why it’s getting worse even as the number of kids in juvenile detention drops.”