AN INMATE who opened up the scalp of a female youth justice officer when he hit her with a guitar at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre in January should be in adult prison, argues the Community and Public Sector Union.
Describing the attack as brutal and unprovoked, CPSU spokesman Julian Kennelly also said the female worker was one of several staff members who had warned management before the assault about the inmate.
It is understood legal moves started this week to have the inmate removed from Parkville Youth Justice Facility where he was sent last week and returned to an adult facility where he was moved after the January attack.
Malmsbury youth justice workers, more than half of which live in Bendigo, are understood to be concerned their colleagues in Parkville will have to deal with him.
It is understood Victoria Police has charged the inmate with assaulting the woman and he is also facing charges related to alleged assaults only weeks earlier in Malmsbury of two male justice officers, also with a guitar.
But Mr Kennelly said the inmate should be removed for his own safety.
The inmate has just turned 18 years old but he was 17 at the time of the assaults meaning he will be treated in court as a juvenile for the outstanding case.
“You can imagine there is going to be a fair few colleagues of the woman who was assaulted so viciously in Malmsbury not happy to be in his company and that will create discipline issues as well,” Mr Kennelly said.
“They have seen what he did to that young woman.
“It was an absolutely brutal assault, and unprovoked, and came from behind so she was completely unexpecting.
“I think there was another client that she was talking to, sitting with her, that caught her as she fell to the floor otherwise she probably would have cracked her head on the floor or the table as she was going down.”
WorkSafe Victoria is still investigating the assault.
The final report of the Victoria inquiry into youth justice centres was handed down this week and recorded the deterioration of conditions at Malmsbury between July 2016 and March 2017 and made recommendations to remedy the hostility and tension at the time.
The recommendations include employing an appropriately qualified workforce.
The inquiry heard testimony about the benefits of a therapeutic model of rehabilitation rather than punishment to manage inmate behaviour and to prepare them for post-detention life.
But the report found youth justice staff had to be well trained, feel safe and have the support of management if they were to aid rehabilitation. Mr Kennelly said the inquiry and findings from past reviews had prompted recent improvements including the transfer of administration of centres from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Justice and Regulation.
But progress was slow, he said.
“I think the focus is now on the safety of everybody inside,” Mr Kennelly said.
The Department of Justice and Regulation was contacted for comment.
– Sharon Kemp