COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Information for stakeholders

Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our COVID-19 Hotspot Response Planning tools allow us to quickly and proportionally respond to any community outbreaks in accordance with health advice through a staged approach to restrictions, which may vary as required at any given time across different centres and community corrections offices.

Due to confirmed community transmission of COVID-19 in Queensland, the Premier announced a lockdown in South East Queensland, Townsville (including Magnetic Island) and Palm Island from 6pm, Tuesday 29 June to 6pm Friday 2 July, to help stop the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 strain detected. On the advice of the Chief Health Officer, all correctional centres and Community corrections offices across Queensland implemented Stage 3 restrictions from 29 June 2021.

Due to a decrease in locally acquired cases, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, all correctional centres reverted to Stage 2 restrictions, except for Capricornia and Lotus Glen correctional centres which reverted to Stage 1 restrictions, from 7 July 2021.

On 15 July 2021, cases of community transmission were confirmed within South East Queensland with correctional centres from Maryborough south to the New South Wales border remaining in Stage 2 restrictions from 16 July 2021. Townsville Correctional Centre reverted to Stage 1 restrictions, with Capricornia and Lotus Glen Correctional Centres continuing in Stage 1.

On the advice of the Chief Health Officer, correctional centres and Community Corrections offices from Woodford south to the New South Wales border reverted to Stage 1 restrictions from 30 July 2021, with mandatory mask wearing remaining in place in South East Queensland.

Due to confirmed community transmission of COVID-19 which is linked to the delta variant, the Health Minister announced residents of South East Queensland were required to move into a three day lockdown from 4pm Saturday 31 July to 4pm Tuesday 3 August to help stop the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 strain detected. On the advice of the Chief Health Officer all correctional centres and Community corrections offices from Maryborough south to the New South Wales border have implemented Stage 3 restrictions from 31 July 2021.

QCS operations and COVID-19

The global effort to combat COVID-19 is ongoing and many nations are feeling the effects of this scourge. These are difficult and challenging times for all of us.

As you know, the governments in our country started their planning early to address this pandemic. Similarly, Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) planned for this and our strategies have been multifaceted, thoughtful and decisive.

Our top priorities are the safety of all personnel, including officers and the people in our care, and the safe and secure operation of the correctional system.

QCS’ fundamental strategy has been to keep COVID-19 out of our prisons, and keep all people in our system safe, well, and free from harm. If COVID-19 enters a centre, we must employ all possible strategies to isolate, contain and suppress it to the degree that is possible, in partnership with our colleagues at Queensland Health.

Our QCS COVID-19 Hotspot Response Planning tools allow for a staged and proportionate response, enabling different levels of restrictions to be in place in different locations as required to protect the health of all. These tools were developed in conjunction with Corrective Services Administrators Council (CSAC) and are implemented in conjunction with Queensland Health advice and with the support of the Chief Health Officer.

To limit the risk of a prisoner with COVID-19 being received into a prison, all receptions are subject to health screening on admission. Prisoners entering or already within the correctional system who are suspected of having COVID-19 are provided testing and isolated for 14 days as required according to health advice.

Prisoners who are confirmed to have COVID-19 will be isolated and treated in hospital by Queensland Health and not returned to the correctional centre until cleared of infection.

We are also committed to ensuring community safety, and if a prisoner is showing symptoms at any time, including the period prior to discharge, Queensland Health will conduct health assessment of the prisoner, including testing. Discharged prisoners are provided with information about COVID-19 and what to do if they develop symptoms.

Steps have also been taken by Community Corrections offices located throughout the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Officers have implemented temperature screening and social distancing and adopted alternative mechanisms to face to face meetings to manage offenders where appropriate. We work with external providers to maintain interventions and program delivery whenever possible. Our teams continue to work closely with Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health and local stakeholders to ensure community safety.

QCS’ COVID-19 response involves continuing to work effectively with the judiciary, and engaging with stakeholders, particularly the union, as well as prisoners, offenders and their family.

This page will be regularly updated with current information to assist all our partners and the community at large to understand how QCS is working to keep everyone as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further details are available in our Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have a question that is not answered on the website, please direct your further inquiries in first instance to the QCS COVID-19 State Corrections Operations Centre, on QCSCOVID-19StateOperationsCentre@Corrections.qld.gov.au

Community Corrections

How are Community Corrections managing offenders during COVID-19?

Revised 15 April 2021
QCS is committed to reducing the risk of COVID-19 to employees and people under community supervision. Steps have been taken to comply with public health directions, including to implement standard precautions of social distancing, careful cleaning of surfaces, hand hygiene practices, and coughing and sneezing etiquette.

A four-stage plan guides Community Corrections’ response to COVID-19. As the risk of COVID-19 increases or decreases over time, Community Corrections may move up or down through the stages, and offices across the state may be in different stages depending on health advice.

Stage 1. Adopt social distancing principles, undertake screening of offenders and adjust operational activities on a case-by-case basis to reduce likelihood of infection.

Stage 2. Planned reduction of in person engagement with offenders and external services in order to increase social distancing and reduce exposure.

Stage 3. Significant reduction of in person engagement with offenders, and suspension of operational activities assessed as unacceptable risk of exposure or infection.

Stage 4. Public health declaration requires the public to limit movements and/or isolate due to spread of infection. Cease direct employee and offender contact with service delivery maintained via remote operations.

What stage is Community Corrections currently implementing?

Revised 31 July 2021

As a result of cases of COVID-19 in the community in Queensland confirmed from 28 June 2021, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, from 29 June all Community Corrections offices across Queensland moved to Stage 3 restrictions.

On 7 July 2021, Community Corrections offices in several regions across Queensland reverted to Stage 2 restrictions as a result of a decrease in locally acquired cases.

On 15 July 2021, cases of community transmission were confirmed in South East Queensland with Community Corrections offices in several regions across Queensland remaining or reverting to Stage 1 and 2 restrictions from 16 July 2021.

On 30 July 2021, due to low cases of community transmission, all Community Corrections offices reverted to Stage 1 restrictions in South East Queensland.

Due to the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community in South East Queensland, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer from 31 July the following Community Corrections offices across Queensland moved to Stage 3 restrictions:

  • Central region (Hervey Bay only)
  • North Coast region
  • Brisbane region
  • Southern region (Ipswich and Inala only)
  • South Coast region

The following Community Corrections offices will remain in Stage 1 restrictions:

  • Far Northern region
  • Northern region
  • Central region (Bundaberg, Emerald, Gladstone, Rockhampton)
  • Southern region (Kingaroy, Dalby, Roma, Charleville, Toowoomba, Warwick)

You can view the full QCS Community Corrections stage restriction timeline (updated 31 July 2021) by clicking on to the following link:

QCS internet Stage Restriction Timeline Community Corrections (31 Jul 2021)

 

Correctional centres

How are correctional centres responding to COVID-19?

Revised 15 April 2021

QCS is committed to reducing the risk of COVID-19 to employees and people in our care. Steps have been taken to ensure compliance with public health directions in all correctional centres, including to implement standard precautions of social distancing, careful cleaning of surfaces, hand hygiene practices, and coughing and sneezing etiquette.

A four-stage plan guides correctional centres’ response to COVID-19. As the risk of COVID-19 increases or decreases over time, centres may move up or down through the stages, and centres across the state may be in different stages depending on health advice.

 

Stage 1.  Excludes visitors to QCS prisons if they present with one or more of the risk factors, including flu like symptoms, have recently returned from overseas and/or been in contact with someone recently returned from overseas.

Stage 2.  Restricts all personal visits. All other visits conducted in accordance with advice from the Chief Health Officer regarding social distancing with no physical contact.

Stage 3. Only essential QCS, Queensland Health and business critical visitors (with Commissioner approval required) will be granted access to correctional centres.

Stage 4. Is a full or partial lock down of prisons. This involves all prisoners being secured in their cells and movement within the facilities restricted.

What stage are correctional centres currently in?

Revised 31 July 2021

As a result of COVID-19 in the community in Queensland confirmed from 28 June 2021, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, from 29 June all correctional centres across Queensland moved to Stage 3 restrictions.

On 7 July 2021, a number of correctional centres across Queensland reverted to Stage 2 restrictions as a result of a decrease in locally acquired cases.

On 15 July 2021, cases of community transmission were confirmed in South East Queensland with a number of correctional centres across Queensland remaining or reverting to Stage 1 and 2 restrictions from 16 July 2021.

On 30 July 2021, due to low cases of community transmission, all correctional centres reverted to Stage 1 restrictions.

Due to the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community in South East Queensland, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer from 31 July the following correctional centres across Queensland moved to Stage 3 restrictions:

  • Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre
  • Borallon Training and Correctional Centre
  • Brisbane Correctional Centre
  • Brisbane Womens Correctional Centre
  • Helana Jones Centre
  • Maryborough Correctional Centre
  • Numinbah Correctional Centre
  • Palen Creek Correctional Centre
  • Southern Queensland Correctional Centre
  • Wolston Correctional Centre
  • Woodford Correctional Centre

The following correctional centres will remain in Stage 1 restrictions:

  • Capricornia Correctional Centre
  • Lotus Glen Correctional Centre
  • Townsville Correctional Centre

You can view the full QCS Custodial Operations stage restriction timeline (updated 31 July 2021) by clicking onto the following link:

QCS internet Stage Restriction Timeline Custodial (31 Jul 2021)

What health checks are there for QCS and Queensland Health staff, professional, official and other business visitors prior to entering a correctional centre?

Revised 30 March 2021

QCS has in place health and temperature checks for all staff and other people before they enter facilities across the state. Any person with a temperature over 38 degrees or with cold or flu-like systems is not be permitted access to the centre and is referred to seek medical advice. These measures will remain in place until recovery from COVID-19 is considered complete.

What precautions are in place at point of entry for prisoners?

Revised 30 March 2021

QCS continues to limit the risk of a prisoner with COVID-19 being received into the secure custody environment, by ensuring health and temperature checks are conducted at reception. If the prisoner is suspected of having COVID-19, they are provided testing and isolated pending the results of that testing. Prisoners will be isolated for 14 days as required according to health advice.

Prisoners who are confirmed to have COVID-19 are to be isolated and treated according to Queensland Health advice. Subject to the capacity of the health system, confirmed cases will be managed in a health setting to reduce the risk of transmission.

From Stage 2 of restrictions, further steps are put in place to help stop COVID-19 entering Queensland prisons including isolating all new receptions for a 14-day period.

To support health and wellbeing of any prisoner subject to isolation, to the greatest extent possible each prisoner subject to isolation must also have:

  • access to confidential medical assessment and treatment including specialist mental health services
  • access to engagement with the offender development team to monitor and support their mental health
  • engagement with unit and activities officers to provide activities that may be undertaken whilst isolated (such as books, drawing and letter writing)
  • access to blue letter mail processes and unmonitored calls with legal representatives
  • access to facilitated telephone calls, and/or videoconference connection with family where possible.

Once any 14-day isolation period is completed, the prisoner will be relocated to the general prisoner population following a final temperature and health check by Queensland Health staff.

The process is uniform across Queensland for consistency with no discretionary authority applied.

How will an isolated prisoner be managed?

Revised December 2020

Prisoners in isolation are to be in single cell accommodation insofar as practicable for the protection of the broader prisoner and staff population. Isolated prisoners are not required to restart a 14-day isolation period if they are required to leave their cell during the isolation period.

What other restrictions on prisoner movements are in place?

Revised December 2020

To minimise the risks associated with COVID-19, steps may be put in place to minimise the movement of prisoners between centres. For example, when the relevant COVID-19 restrictions are in place, prisoner movements between centres will only occur when essential for placement, and prisoner requested moves are restricted.

How are vulnerable prisoners managed?

Revised December 2020

A vulnerable prisoner is a prisoner who falls within the category of people identified in the statement published by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on 30 March 2020 as being at, or likely to be at, a higher risk or serious illness if infected with COVID-19. The people identified by the AHPPC as vulnerable are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions
  • people 70 years and older
  • people with compromised immune systems.

Chronic medical conditions, and conditions which give rise to immunosuppression, are listed and updated by the Department of Health.

On 8 April 2020, QCS further strengthened its commitment to COVID-19 precautionary measures by ensuring QCS works even more collaboratively with Queensland Health to identify and respond to vulnerable prisoners at each correctional centre.

All those confirmed by Queensland Health as vulnerable prisoners are to be medically segregated as required to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. Such prisoners may be accommodated in dedicated single cell accommodation and/or unit to reduce the level of close contact with the broader prisoner population. These prisoners will not be isolated in their cells.

QCS will ensure access to health and mental health services, activities, and contact with family, is appropriately maintained. QCS considers the risks and needs of each prisoner carefully, including in relation to their cultural background or any disability. These considerations remain standard QCS practice in responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

How is QCS managing the transfer of vulnerable prisoners?

Revised December 2020

If a vulnerable prisoner is required to transfer to another secure corrective services facility, the receiving centre will be notified of the prisoner’s vulnerable status as part of the prisoner transfer authority.

If the prisoner is released to parole or a community-based order, Community Corrections will be notified of their vulnerable status to inform decision making on supervision and reporting requirements.

Will there be legislation changes to release prisoners?

Revised December 2020

QCS is committed to ensuring the health and safety of staff, prisoners and offenders and is taking necessary precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Queensland’s corrective services facilities. We also must protect the safety of the community. With these priorities, consideration is not currently being given to introducing legislation to alter or extend existing prisoner release mechanisms in Queensland, with several options already available for prisoners under the Corrective Services Act 2006 (the Act).

What is QCS doing to ensure the community is safe from COVID-19?

Revised December 2020

QCS is committed to ensuring community safety, and as such any prisoner with symptoms approaching a known discharge will receive a health and temperature check conducted by Queensland Health and will be assisted in accordance with health advice.

When restrictions were in place to protect Queensland’s Indigenous communities, QCS also put in place extra precautions for the return of those in our care to these locations to ensure compliance with the restrictions and the safety of all.

As of 3 July 2020, the Chief Health Officer removed restrictions for 16 of the 20 Indigenous communities in Queensland under the Restricted Access to Remote Communities Direction. As of 10 July 2020, the Chief Health Officer’s Direction was revoked entirely for the remaining four communities, therefore re-opening them. For this reason, while standard COVID-19 precautions continue to be taken, there are currently no other public health requirements for COVID-19 testing of adults exiting custody or quarantine, for example, before individuals return to any Indigenous community.

When will personal visits with prisoners re-commence?

Revised 31 July 2021

Queensland Corrective Services’ priority is to keep COVID-19 out of our prisons and to keep staff and all people in our care safe. This is why a staged approach is taken to restrictions, including with respect to personal visits, according to the level of risk.

During Stage 1 restrictions, face to face personal visits can proceed according to current health advice and the COVID-SAFE plans in place. When correctional centres are in Stage 2 and Stage 3 restrictions, face to face personal visits are suspended, with video-conferencing and other alternative measures encouraged so that prisoners can keep in touch with loved ones.

Even when restrictions are eased and visits can occur, some changes to contact and non-contact personal visits may be required according to health advice and COVID-SAFE plans.

As a result of COVID-19 in the community in Queensland confirmed from 28 June 2021, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, from 29 June all correctional centres across Queensland moved to Stage 3 restrictions.

On 7 July 2021, a number of correctional centres across Queensland reverted to Stage 2 restrictions as a result of a decrease in locally acquired cases.

On 15 July 2021, cases of community transmission were confirmed in South East Queensland with a number of correctional centres across Queensland remaining or reverting to Stage 1 and 2 restrictions from 16 July 2021. On the advice of the Chief Health Officer, all correctional centres reverted to Stage 1 restrictions from 30 July 2021.

Due to the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community in South East Queensland, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer from 31 July the following correctional centres across Queensland moved to Stage 3 restrictions:

  • Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre
  • Borallon Training and Correctional Centre
  • Brisbane Correctional Centre
  • Brisbane Womens Correctional Centre
  • Helana Jones Centre
  • Maryborough Correctional Centre
  • Numinbah Correctional Centre
  • Palen Creek Correctional Centre
  • Southern Queensland Correctional Centre
  • Wolston Correctional Centre
  • Woodford Correctional Centre

This means visits have been cancelled at the correctional centres in South East Queensland. Only essential workers will have access to the centres after a medical screening, and masks will be worn.

Visits are occurring as normal at Capricornia, Townsville and Lotus Glen Correctional centres, but anyone who has been in the locked down areas since 1am Friday, July 31, will be unable to visit any Queensland correctional centre until restrictions ease.

Virtual personal visits (VPV) remain available for family and friends of prisoners to ensure people in our care can stay in touch with their loved ones and to help protect the health of all.

Delays may occur in booking availability for VPV when there is high demand, but QCS works to ensure everyone can virtually visit their loved ones as soon as possible. For more information and to book, contact your correctional centre.

Queensland Corrective Services has also recently added a new service to allow family and friends to email prisoners located in Queensland correctional centres.

Everyone entering a correctional centre will continue to undergo health screening and temperature checks. Visitors who are showing signs of illness, or who have visited or travelled through declared hotspots in the past 14 days will not be admitted to our centres.

Access to legal representation

I need to get my client to sign a s651 application for their sentence to proceed. Can QCS assist with this?

Revised December 2020

When restrictions are in place due to COVID-19, Queensland Corrective Services will assist legal representatives with the completion of section 651 applications. If you have an application that needs to be signed by a prisoner, please send it to the sentence management email address at the correctional centre where the prisoner is accommodated. Sentence Management staff will coordinate the completion of these applications (including the completion of the Oaths Act declaration) and return by email to legal representatives.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact via email at covid19specops@corrections.qld.gov.au

How is QCS supporting prisoners and their legal representatives on bail applications, and how can legal representatives and engaged experts request a tele or video conference with a prisoner?

Revised December 2020

Please refer to the correctional centre conference booking methods document for instructions on how to make a video or teleconference booking with your client.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Last updated: 1 August 2021
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