Corrections staff walk off job at Woodford jail after colleague’s bashing
Woodford Correctional Centre guards met on Wednesday to discuss their concerns. (ABC News: Tara Cassidy)
Guards at Woodford Correctional Centre, north of Brisbane are refusing to return to work after an inmate attacked one of their colleagues, leaving him with serious facial injuries.
- Woodford guard and union delegate Jason Hunt says overcrowding in the prison is worse than ever
- The prison workplace dispute is being heard in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission
- Prison violence concerns brought to a head by guard’s bashing on Tuesday afternoon
The dispute is being heard in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.
Union delegate and prison guard Jason Hunt told the ABC in his 19 years working at the Woodford jail, overcrowding had never been as bad as it was now.
“We’ve been asking and asking and asking for years,” he said.
But concerns at Woodford came to a head when a 45-year-old prison officer had to be flown to hospital with serious facial injuries after he was assaulted by an inmate at about 3:00pm on Tuesday.
“Most horrifying of all is that we almost anticipated that something like this would happen,” Mr Hunt said.
“It’s gotten so difficult and so challenging to do this job,” Mr Hunt said.
“We deal with the state’s most dangerous, difficult and challenging people, so if you think of all the violent crime that’s been reported over the last couple of years, all of those people are the ones we deal with on a daily basis.
A prison guard was airlifted to hospital on Tuesday night after being attacked by an inmate. (ABC News)
“There’s a finite number of bed spaces in Queensland and apparently a limitless and infinite of offenders to fill them,” Mr Hunt said.
“This action today, which is a safety-related action, where we’re waiting for a response from the department, it’s a desperate plea for help.”
Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) said the prisoner involved in the attack is serving a sentence for grievous bodily harm.
QCS Commissioner Peter Martin said the officer would require surgery, but would hopefully make a full recovery over time.
“This was a disgraceful and sickening attack on a public safety officer who was going about his business in his workplace,” he said.
“It’s a stark reminder of the challenges that our officers face as they work to maintain the safety and the security of our prisoners … one assault is one assault too many.”
Guards say they have been concerned about overcrowding at Woodford for some time. (www.phillipssmithconwell.com.au)
Commissioner Martin said prison overcrowding was “not a unique situation for Queensland” and could not necessarily be blamed for the attack.
“It makes the environment that we work in challenging, it makes it complex, but I’m very confident there are ways to address that, particularly with the support of government,” he said.
In a statement, Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said he appreciated the concerns of prison guards at Woodford.
“We share a common goal of making sure our workplaces are as safe as they can be,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Hunt said prison guards at Woodford just wanted a safe place to work.
“We would like to be able to come to work, say goodbye to the family, jump in the car and have a reasonably good chance of getting home that afternoon and not ending up in intensive care, like has happened to this officer,” he said.
“That is not an unreasonable request.”