Corrective Services NSW reform update: Psychologists - Public Service Association

Corrective Services NSW reform update: Psychologists

The PSA met with Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) on 25 November 2022. This meeting was specific to issues raised by psychologist members as part of ongoing consultation with CSNSW on the new CSNSW structure.

Update on Psychologists Working Group

CSNSW reported there had been three meetings which were frank and open with lots of discussion. The working group is to determine what the model for psychologists will be. There have been a number of models proposed and considered for both custodial and community psychology. There are many uncertainties surrounding the community group. Currently concerns raised by the psychologists mean that CSNSW should pause the working group and take issues back to the steering committee.

The PSA responded and advised that many custodial psychologists are unhappy reporting to a 11/12 manager. Rather they want to report to a governor. Psychologists believe this will keep them ‘in the loop’. This issue will be taken back to the steering committee comprised of CSNSW Executive staff. There was further discussion about reporting lines, CSNSW advised that the steering committee is actually looking further into the 11/12 reporting option for larger centers. In response to PSA concerns, CSNSW advised the 11/12 manager is supposed to be an administration manager for multiple areas in the prison, not just psychologists. The PSA also questioned the funding for the 11/12 role as it was new. CSNSW advised it would provide more information the week beginning 28 November 2022.

Regarding the community model, CSNSW advised it will start a new working group with MOSPs and the Community Corrections working group. The challenge for the group will be to determine how to deliver services under one team when there are so many models across NSW.

Specialist psychologists

The PSA put a number of questions to CSNSW regarding specialist psychologists. CSNSW advised it was not in a position to respond to all of them. However, it could provide a general overview.

CSNSW advised that the principal psychologist will report to the Director of Strategy and Planning. The role is supposed to be a Strategy role, regardless of the area the psychologist is in.

CSNSW then advised that regarding chief psychologists, CSNSW is undecided as to where this position would fit best. The role may come under the Director of Correctional Practice and Offender Transformation. However, this still needs to be considered by CSNSW executive. The main role of chief psychologist will be to develop programs and interventions. Also, the chief psychologists will provide clinical supervision across the state.

At this point CSNSW advised that day-to-day operations for psychologists are not going to magically change post-19 December 2022 and even into the new year, things should be the same regarding peer supervision. It was noted by CSNSW that working groups have discussed maintaining supervision and that CSNSW will not go ahead and change everything until all relevant factors are considered.

PSA questions from members to CSNSW

The PSA requested a timeframe as there have been no specific questions answered, only general updates on the working groups. CSNSW advised that because the questions are very specific, until the overall structure is in place and the working groups sign off on their models, many of the questions cannot be answered in a meaningful way.

The PSA then asked about the consultation period. CSNSW advised that by 19 December 2022, the macro structure should be in place. At this point, CSNSW should be able to answer some of the questions, but there is still a lot that needs to be put in place post 19 December 2022. CSNSW advised that questions from members have been helpful in directing the working groups.

Further questions

The PSA asked if CSNSW expected psychologists to be split into custody or community groupings by 19 December 2022 and if PBCAP would have any implications on this process.

CSNSW advised that towards 19 December 2022, CSNSW will be actively working towards the macro structure. CSNSW will not go live with a new model that has not been finalised and everything is not going to change on the 19th if it is not finalised. Once the model is developed there will be an implementation plan.

The PSA responded by highlighting the impact of the process so far on members. People want to leave CSNSW as morale is so low. CSNSW advised that it was currently drafting messaging around what the 11/12 reporting line would look like, and that they would provide more information to try and reduce uncertainty for members.

The PSA requested that the questions be responded to by CSNSW in writing. CSNSW agreed to this and that the answer would be grouped by themes.

Again, the PSA emphasised that reporting to a MOSP or an 11/12 is a main issue from the field and many members are opposed to this. Psychologist don’t want to feel excluded from the core business of the Department or de-professionalised. While CSNSW have advised that clinical supervision will be provided still, the PSA questions the current reporting structure favoured by CSNSW as similar models in other jurisdictions have not been successful.


These will be kept regardless of new structure

The PSA will meet again with CSNSW on 2 December 2022 regarding issues raised by Service and Programs Officers.

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