Townsville Correctional Centre. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Townsville Correctional Centre. Picture: Shae Beplate.

Prison reopens investigation into staff flood gripes

AN INVESTIGATION that was completed into the allegations Townsville prison staff were placed at risk by management during the catastrophic February floods was reopened, with individual staff reinterviewed.

Prison sources told the Townsville Bulletin officers were forced to travel and stay at the prison, despite their homes suffering damage during the floods.

Internal documents previously seen by the Bulletin, revealed "several complaints" were made by prison staff following the flood event, alleging managers made decisions that potentially placed safety and security at risk, a general lack of information from management and the "treatment of some staff" during the period.

The allegations were assessed by the Ethical Standards Unit with the investigation finalised, and the outcomes distributed in an email to staff.

Sources said prison staff questioned the legitimacy of a recent crisis meeting about the management during the floods because the managers at the centre of the allegations were present throughout, and did not feel they could speak freely.

A Queensland Corrective Services spokesman confirmed the investigation was revisited by the Ethical Standards Unit who met with Townsville Correctional Centre Management, staff and union representatives.

"A number of individuals were also interviewed by Ethical Standards Unit," he said.

"This resulted in some changes to procedures and protocols locally and provided lessons for consideration of statewide changes in the event of future natural disaster events.

"The matter has been now finalised by the Ethical Standards Unit."

Sources said staff were also given written instructions resembling a "Pac-Man maze" on how to access the prison complex via non-flooded routes.

At the original crisis meeting with union representatives and management, held before the investigation was reopened, resulted in some changes to procedures and protocols locally.

The spokesman said it "provided learnings for consideration of state wide changes" in the event of future natural disaster events.

The investigation found debriefs needed to be conducted after weather events and the implementation of a statewide code and contingency plan for natural disasters could address the issues raised.

In an email to staff, TCC general manager Peter Hall said a number of actions had been taken to follow up on complaints made in relation to the monsoonal event earlier this year.

The prison has been hit by a number of scandals this year, including allegations of a sex tryst involving a prison officer and admissions of a long-term cultural problem.