Counselling and support
Being sent to prison can be a traumatic and distressing experience for many people, especially first-time prisoners.
For this reason, there are a number of counselling and support services available.
Each prisoner is assessed when they first arrive in a prison. The assessment means staff can work out their security rating, uncover any health issues, work out what programs or education they should take part in and find out if they need any help to cope better.
A counselling service, prison support officers and suicide prevention strategies are available to prisoners who need extra support or who may be have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Teams of social workers and psychologists work with health professionals, prison officers and other staff to help prisoners deal with difficulties they might experience while in prison.
If you are worried about how a family member or friend is coping in custody, please call the prison they are being held in.
Prison support officers
Prisoners have access to a range of services to help them cope. One of these is prison support officers - Aboriginal employees who can be found at prisons around the State. Their main role is suicide prevention and they work closely with prison officers, nursing staff and the Prison Counselling Service.
Prison support officers also manage the peer support teams. Peer support prisoners are located at each prison to provide support to new arrivals and any other prisoner who is having difficulties.
They are also part of the Prisoner At-Risk Group (PRAG) which manages all prisoners at-risk of hurting themselves or others. For more information on this group, refer to suicide prevention below.
Prison counselling service
The Prison Counselling Service provides individual counselling sessions for prisoners who are having trouble coping in prison. It is made up of psychologists and social workers and assesses prisoners to see if they have any self-harm, suicide or other risk factors. If a prisoner is found to have any of these issues, the Service provides crisis counselling and other help.
Prisoners also have the support of the Aboriginal Visitors Scheme, a team of Aboriginal staff who provide support and culturally-appropriate advice to prisoners. To find out more, refer to Aboriginal Visitors Scheme.
Prisoners who are at risk of self harm or suicide are placed on the At-Risk Management System (ARMS) - a suicide prevention strategy for people in custody. They are offered counselling and are closely watched while on the system.
Prisoners who need extra support or supervision to help them cope are put on the Support and Monitoring System (SAMS) - a case management system to make sure they receive the extra help and monitoring they need.
Chaplain services are available in all Western Australian prisons to offer religious, moral and spiritual support.
Prisoners can meet with spiritual leaders from their chosen religion for services, pastoral visits, religious instruction and private counselling. Access to recognised spiritual or tribal elders is provided to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander prisoners.
Chaplains also conduct weekly religious services for prisoners.
Page last updated: 17-Oct-2016