Those public servants who are employed in Australia’s network of detention centres, and similar places, will receive the training due to the fact they witness ‘trauma’ and ‘tragedy’ in their work lives.
The government is turning to the private sector to provide the training, and invites organisations to bid for a contract that is intended to train 1,000 Immigration and Border Force officials each year.
According to tender documents as reported by Fairfax Media, the training will be aimed at “those who work with objectionable material or witness vicarious trauma such as staff in client services, detention centres, investigations, border operations, and health services roles amongst other areas.”
“Additionally, staff in roles related to the above may have incidental or accidental exposure, and training solutions should seek to support these staff also.
“DIBP defines ‘resilience’ as the process of adapting well at times of high demand when an individual’s coping resources may be stretched and adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.”
Recent figures show that workers’ compensation claims for mental stress at the Immigration Department have doubled between 2014 and 2015. According to the department, existing measures to serve mental health among employees include psychological assessments, self-care support programs and counselling.
The announcement that staff will receive resilience training met with criticism from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Chief executive Kon Karapanagiotidis said, “It's really quite damning when the department has to start training its staff in resilience.”
“Even as a lawyer stepping into a detention centre, just for day, you come out shaken and distressed and what you see with departmental staff is significant vicarious trauma.
“So if the staff need this training, people who work there, they don’t live there, so if they’re not coping what are these places doing to the people who are imprisoned there?”
The Immigration Department is taking measures to protect and improve the mental health of its officials by implementing ‘resilience training’.