There are psychological impacts associated with critical incidents. In particular, it was noted by several staff undertaking the Inquiry that some Banksia Hill staff members were experiencing strong emotional reactions to the riot. Banksia Hill staff spoke about being ‘gutted’ by the actions of the detainees. Others expressed frustration at the detainees and believe their actions during the riot were personal. Recovery from this position back to positive engagement with detainees and a positive approach to their roles will for some be a natural progression. However, for others, a more structured approach may be necessary.
While both a cold and a hot debrief have been carried out, a debrief for the purpose of staff airing their concerns and developing plans to address these concerns does not appear to have been conducted either in one session or in smaller sessions. Many staff noted that the meetings conducted during this Inquiry were the first opportunity they had been provided to talk about the incident. A support session was planned in February, however this was cancelled. One on one support sessions and follow up support has been provided by the Department, with 93 per cent of respondents to the staff survey indicating they had been offered this support. However, staff have not necessarily taken up this opportunity.
Overall, the Department has made a concerted effort to support staff after this critical incident. However, the factors that staff directly attributed to causing the riot have not changed and therefore recovery will be limited. As noted in the this Inquiry’s Management, Staffing and Amalgamation Review Paper, until staff are united under a shared philosophy and culture (with associated performance management mechanisms in place), there will continue to be high levels of unplanned leave, low morale and an overall ‘identity crisis’ among staff.