Prison Privatisation - PSA attends compulsory conference

09 November 2018

The Public Service Association (PSA) today attended the compulsory conference facilitated by a South Australian Employment Tribunal Commissioner about the privatisation of the Adelaide Remand Centre (ARC). The compulsory conference is a step that must be taken before the matter can proceed to the South Australian Employment Court.

At the conference it was decided the matter would be referred to the South Australian Employment Court.

The Department for Correctional Services (DCS) stated they require greater detail about the information the PSA is seeking for consultation in relation to the Government’s decision to privatise the ARC. This follows the PSA’s previous formal correspondence which included a comprehensive list of  information required.

The PSA has agreed to write to DCS detailing what information is required from the Department for genuine consultation.

In the meantime, fundamental questions about the decision to privatise the ARC remain unanswered:

  • Why was the Adelaide Remand Centre chosen over any other institution?
  • Have the particular requirements of the Adelaide Remand Centre compared with other prisons been taken into account?
  • What work was undertaken to establish the costs at each prison site used in that determination?
  • What is factored into the provision costs used to establish a basis for privatisation (purely labour per day, or are other elements also factored in?
  • Is that determined over a short term, for example a month, or was a longer term approach taken to establish a cost per day as described?
  • If a long term approach was taken, the Adelaide Remand Centre was staffing the City and Sturt watch houses for a number of years until recently. This required significant increased staffing levels including a long period using overtime as well as increases in infrastructure costs to set up the watch houses. Has this been taken into account when arriving at the provision costs?
  • Was the use of over establishment rosters factored into the costs?
  • If it could be established that the savings target could be reached without the need to privatise the ARC, would the Government consider that option?
  • Were better rostering practices across DCS investigated as an alternate source of achieving the required savings?
  • Was minimising the time people are held on remand considered as an option to reduce the costs of running the ARC (e.g. by resourcing the court system adequately)?
  • What alternatives to privatisation were provided to the Minister in the bilateral process in June this year?
  • Is it possible that a long term contract could act as a disincentive to reduce the number of people held on remand and the length of time they spend on remand?
  • Is the expectation that a private provider will provide the same levels of service that is currently provided at the ARC, including all health services, social work services and close watch services?

We expect the next step in the legal case is the matter being listed in the Court for a directions hearing.

The PSA will continue to keep members informed of the progress of the case as the matter progresses.

For more information on the PSA’s campaign against the privatisation of prisons contact your PSA Worksite Representative or PSA Industrial Officer.