Choose Respect column: Respect in our prisons

In 2013, the Bunbury Regional Prison introduced the Choose Respect campaign which saw approximately 50 staff and 20 prisoners volunteer to become individual champions to drive the strategy within the prison.  Choose Respect has provided us an opportunity to instill a common set of community based values and behavioural principles that are applicable to staff, prisoners and visitors alike.     

More importantly, as a workplace within the Bunbury City, the Choose Respect strategy also gave us the ability to establish a set of workplace values and behaviours that mirrored households and other businesses in the broader Bunbury community.

Thereby applying the same community based code of behaviour and understanding of respect to prisoners to use whilst in prison and when transitioning from the prison back into the community. 

In championing Choose Respect at the prison, no one was expected to be perfect, but instead we asked that they make a conscious effort to live by the Choose Respect Code of Behaviour and work to foster a culture of respect by promoting the Choose Respect  message and behaviours within the prison environment.

Respectful and healthy relationships between prisoners and staff in a prison setting is important in that it reduces incidents and assist in keeping staff, prisoners and visitors safe.

In 2018, the Code of Behaviours are still used as a baseline for assessing appropriate behaviours within the prison for all staff and prisoners.    

Since 2013, staff have also been role modelling the Code of Behaviours to teach prisoners respectful communications and interactions. 

This role modelling is important in that some prisoners have never been taught respect and as such don’t have many positive relationships. 

Role modelling provides an opportunity for staff to instil respectful communication and behaviours to prisoners that provide them the opportunity to build positive relationships with their peers, staff and family members.   

Anecdotally, there is evidence to suggest that the application of the Choose Respect Code of Behaviours has had a positive impact in building respectful and healthy relationships among staff, prisoners and visitors at the prison, which is a strong indication that we are heading in the right direction in regards to building a respectful culture and respectful relationships. 

Bunbury Regional Prison Superintendent Kerri Bishop