The Public Service Association of NSW, which represents prison officers, urges the State Government to rule out following the ACT trial and implementing a needle exchange program in jails across the state.
While the PSA recognises the serious health issue with blood borne disease transmission, a prisoner needle exchange program would pose an increased health and safety risk for prison officers.
Senior Industrial Officer Stewart Little says it would be unacceptable for the O’Farrell to place prison officers at greater risk of harm despite the difficult and confronting job they do.
“We have serious concerns that a needle exchange program in NSW jails would pose severe risks for prison officers and the inmate population,” Mr Little said today.
“The health and safety of our prison officers when conducting their duties is too important for the State Government to gamble on. Our members will not accept such a program here in NSW.
“Every day prison officers deal with some of the most dangerous and confronting workplace situations involving real-life criminals. Why should the State Government make a tough job even harder by introducing a needle exchange program into the mix?
“In NSW, we’ve already experience the death of former prison officer Geoff Pearce after he contracted and passed away from HIV following a needle stick attack at Sydney’s Long Bay Jail.
“Providing needles to prisoners makes it easier for these attacks to occur, and increases the chances of prison officers contracting deadly diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis.
“Handing prisoners needles would send the message that the system has failed and threatens the success of drug rehabilitation programs.
“Jails are meant to be about rehabilitation, not a venue for making prison officers complicit in the taking of illegal drugs,” Mr Little said.
Contact: Stewart Little 0418 610 792 / Jane Garcia 0434 489 533