“Sadly, this kind of bullying and intimidation on the behalf of the department is all too commonplace,” she told the ABC.
“Our members have reported being bullied, intimidated and unheard when raising matters of significant concern many times.”
“Threatening staff as to how, when and where they discuss the day-to-day management of these young people in an already stressful environment is tactless on the department’s behalf.
“Our members are fully aware of their responsibilities.”
In the email, the senior staff member said it was “imperative not to disclose information “related to our business”, when in the presence of non-youth custodial personnel.
“It is normal, in our line of work, to discuss recent events or incidents that impact our workplace or have attracted media attention,” the staff member said.
“But we must be cognisant of who may overhear these conversations.”
Facility ‘failing at every level’
Ms Hendon said the department’s email was not helpful to youth custodial officers (YCOs), who were already under immense pressure at Banksia Hill, with the facility described as “failing at every level” by the most recent inspector of custodial services report.
“What this letter highlights is the extent to which the riots and disturbances have had longer-term consequences on the ability for Banksia Hill and Unit 18 to run effectively,” she said.
“It isn’t just the physical damage that makes day-to-day work difficult, and threats like these from the department only make matters worse.”
In response, a Department of Justice spokesperson said YCOs had a responsibility to maintain confidentiality.
“It is appropriate to remind officers of this obligation at a time when there are numerous external personnel such as contractors onsite at detention facilities,” the spokesperson said.
The department also refuted claims that staff were intimidated when raising work concerns.
“Staff are able to raise queries and concerns either with facility management or the Corrective Services executive,” a spokesperson said.
“These matters are handled promptly and respectfully.”
It comes after the scathing report into WA’s only juvenile detention centre found immediate measures were needed to address its “emergency” situation.
The inspector of custodial services, Eamon Ryan, who compiled the report, found suicidal youth detainees and ‘”demoralised” staff were in an “acute crisis”.