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Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) is working closely with Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network (the Network) and NSW Health to prevent and manage potential cases of COVID-19 within our correctional centres and workplaces.

We have established a central Command Post to coordinate our response with representatives from across CSNSW, the Network and the Public Service Association (PSA).

More information about the steps we’re taking are detailed on this page.

If you have questions about our response to COVID-19 you can contact us by phone on (02) 8346 1300 between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

Key information

As at 18 May 2020

  • There were 12,623 inmates in full-time custody.
  • There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the inmate population in NSW.
  • Since 31 March 440 inmates have been tested and cleared of COVID-19.
  • There were 24 inmates in isolation for testing and monitoring.

Note, on 28 March 2020, a healthcare employee who worked at Long Bay Hospital tested positive to COVID-19. All necessary measures were taken to protect staff and inmates and there have been no further confirmed cases. No CSNSW correctional centre staff have tested positive.

Key actions

We’re implementing a range of measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering our workplaces. High level actions include:

  • Suspension of in person social visits from March 16 onwards.
  • Restrictions on non-essential inmate movements between centres to help stop the spread.
  • Introduction of temperature testing for staff entering correctional centres.
  • Suspension of community works projects and work release.
  • Introduction of a 14 day quarantine period for all new inmates.
  • Establishing isolation hubs at existing centres across the state to help contain the virus in the event inmates test positive.
  • Piloting video visits for family and friends.
  • Using technology in place of face to face contact to reduce the risk to staff and offenders being managed in the community.

COVID-19 Service Delivery Plan

CSNSW has developed a Service Delivery Plan . The plan provides the overarching framework for each correctional centre’s local plan applicable to their specific environment. These plans are regularly revised and continue to be informed by expert advice from the Network and other authorities and amended as necessary.

Social visits

All social visits to adult correctional centres in NSW have been suspended.

Visits will recommence as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we’re trialing new initiatives to ensure inmates can maintain contact with their family and friends.

Video visits for family and friends

Corrective Services NSW has facilitated more than 16,000 video visits between inmates and their families after face-to-face contact was suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Video visits utilise existing audio-visual studios normally used for court appearances, as well as tablet technology and mobile-signal boosters for prisons in remote areas.

For more information or to find out how to book, visit the CSNSW website.

Subsidised phone calls

While social visits are suspended and video visits are in the pilot phase, CSNSW has arranged for inmates to receive up to three free phone calls per week to maintain contact with their family and friends.

Legal and other professional visitors

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering out correctional centres we’re restricting entry.

Legal and other professional visitors who require access to our centres, are strongly encouraged to use Audio Visual Link (AVL) facilities through JUSTConnect.

Where access is still required, essential visitors are subject to screening questions and a body temperature check. Anyone with a temperature of 38 degrees or above is not permitted to enter.

Like the rest of the community, it is critical we minimise the risk of COVID-19 entering our correctional centres. We are working closely with the Network to ensure we regularly review our approach in line with the latest medical advice.

Information for inmates

Our staff hold regular briefings with inmates to ensure new information is communicated quickly and ensure there is a clear understanding of new measures and the rationale behind them.

We continue to develop new resources to support inmates, including factsheets and training on good hygiene practices.

Inmates with cold or flu like symptoms

If an inmate develops cold or flu-like symptoms, they are immediately isolated and assessed by a clinician to determine if a COVID-19 test is required. The inmate is monitored and will not return to their normal routine until we are confident they pose no COVID-19 risk.

New inmates

We are implementing a 14-day quarantine period for any new inmates entering our system. During this time inmates will be monitored. If they develop cold or flu-like symptoms they will be promptly assessed by a clinician to rule out COVID-19.

Adjustments to programs and education

Ensuring inmates have access to education, programs and services is critical. We are adjusting our service delivery to better accommodate social distancing practices and reduce the risks for staff and inmates.

Supporting vulnerable inmates

Just like in the wider community, there are inmates who are at greater risk if they contract the virus. We are employing a range of specific strategies to support these inmates including; tailored resources, adjustments to local operations and legislative changes to support conditional release if necessary.

Screening processes at correctional centres

All centres are screening staff and any essential contractors prior to entry. This includes a body temperature check. Anyone with a temperature of 38 degrees or above is not permitted to enter. Similarly, anyone exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms must not return until they have fully recovered.

Planning for confirmed cases

Isolation hubs

In preparation for any confirmed cases of COVID-19 within our system, we are establishing dedicated isolation hubs in existing facilities across the state.

If an inmate tests positive for COVID-19, they will be transferred to one of these hubs. These dedicated care facilities will ensure that inmate health and well-being can be appropriately managed. This includes communication with the inmate’s family and supporting access to services such as mental health care.

Within the hub, inmates will be placed in their own cell to help minimise movements, limit close contact, keep staff safe and prevent further spread.

Field hospital

Work has also commenced on the creation of a field hospital to manage inmates who become acutely unwell due to COVID-19. The Network will be responsible for providing all services in the hospital, with CSNSW staff in charge of security.

At this stage the hospital is not required however it is important to act now and ensure we are prepared for all scenarios.

Using a field hospital will ensure inmates receive the treatment they need while keeping public hospitals free of complex security protocols.

Managing the treatment of inmates within correctional centres is the best way of maintaining community safety and preventing the spread.

The NSW Government has made changes in response to COVID-19 which give the Commissioner for CSNSW authority to conditionally release some low risk and vulnerable inmates from prison, if this is necessary for the safety and effectiveness of our prisons.

To date, no inmates have been released to parole under this arrangement.

For more information read the Stronger Communities Cluster response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

If you have questions about a friend or family member in custody you can contact us by phone on 02 8346 1300 between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

Note our staff are bound by the Privacy and Personal Information Act 1998 and the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 which restricts what information they can disclose.

Community Corrections offices remain open and we continue to manage and provide services to people on a court or parole order.

To protect the safety of staff, offenders and the community, some changes have been made to normal services. For example, due to safe distancing policies, community service work has been temporarily suspended.

The following still applies:

  • If you have been released from custody you must attend your local Community Corrections Office within 24 hours.
  • You must maintain contact with your Community Corrections Officer.

If you are unwell, don’t come to a Community Corrections office. Contact your Community Corrections Officer by phone if:

  • you have any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing), or
  • you have been told to self-isolate, or
  • you have been in close contact with any person who is required to self-isolate, or has tested positive to the coronavirus.

Find the Community Corrections office number in the NSW Government Directory.

Please monitor this page or contact your Community Corrections Office for further information.

Building and commissioning work related to critical CSNSW Infrastructure will continue with health and safety modifications in place.

External contractors and third parties employed for infrastructure works will be subject to restrictions and additional screening as outlined in the ‘information for visitors to correctional centres’ section above.

You can read more about CSNSW Infrastructure works on the Better Prison webpage.

If you have questions about our response to COVID-19 you can contact us by phone on 02 8346 1300 between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday to Friday.

Note our staff are bound by the Privacy and Personal Information Act 1998 and the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 which restricts what information they can disclose.

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Last updated: 21 May 2020