Functionality of the SHU hampered by a complex cohort

The SHU has a clear mandate as an intensive supervision unit for prisoners assessed to be a major threat. To mitigate the risks presented by these prisoners, the unit has become highly controlled and restrictive. Long-term placements within the SHU are also becoming more common as there are few alternative placement options available.

Prisoners are managed closely

Prisoners within the SHU are case managed closely by a multi-disciplinary committee. This committee and senior management were committed to progressing SHU prisoners back into
mainstream living units where feasible. Improvements could be made to some management practices and in the types of behavioural interventions offered, which may help prisoners progress to mainstream more quickly.

Daily life is restricted

Prisoners within the SHU have limited access to services, recreation, programs, employment and other activities due to the restrictions of the unit. This impacts the daily life of SHU prisoners and
opportunities for them to engage in rehabilitation and reintegration activities.

Staffing levels are adequate but processes can improve

We found staffing levels within the SHU were generally adequate, but some processes could improve. We also found an unconscious bias appeared to exist towards female officers working in
the unit. And, staff were not provided any additional training despite the complex cohort they were working closely with.

Governance processes vary, but improvements are visible

Generally, we found governance processes were sound. Unit-based record-keeping practices have improved, and the unit has an effective policy framework. We raised concern around the quality of committee minutes and the documentation of case management decisions being made. SHU applications could be strengthened with additional supporting documentation.


Page last updated: October 23, 2023
The Special Handling Unit at Casuarina Prison