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Psychology Services

CSWhat is the CSNSW Psychology Service?

Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. Psychologists can help to understand how people’s thinking relates to their behaviour and to the situation around them. CSNSW employs  psychologists and senior psychologists across different areas of custody and community corrections. They assist in providing:

  • The safe, secure and humane management of offenders and people on remand by providing advice and direct service provision for vulnerable people who are in custody or under supervision of CSNSW. These people include those with mental health and cognitive impairments (including those at risk of self-harm or suicide), and those who pose a risk of harm to others in their immediate environment
  • Reducing risks of re-offending through specialist service and program delivery, particularly for sex and violent offenders and for those with complex clinical and behavioural needs who require extra assistance to access and complete appropriate programs that make a safer community
  • Integration of offenders into custodial environments and reintegration to community on release from custody. Community safety is improved by having well-adjusted and stable people released from custody who are supported in times of need related to risks, and who are engaged with the wider community and can pursue general well-being without criminal behaviour
  • Advising courts, the State Parole Authority, the Mental Health Review Tribunal and other statutory authorities regarding assessment of risks, criminogenic needs, and responsivity issues as well as recommendations for appropriate management of these issues

It is important to distinguish psychiatrists, who are medical doctors, from psychologists, who are not medical doctors, particularly in CSNSW. Psychiatric services for people who have serious mental health impairments are provided in CSNSW by Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network , which is a part of NSW Health not of Corrective Services. Psychologists in CSNSW work in partnership with Justice Health to manage people with mental health impairments and other health-related issues, however Justice Health is the primary agency for health care for people in custody.

How does the CSNSW Psychology Service work?

All CSNSW psychologists are registered with the Psychology Board of Australia and are employed under conditions of the Crown Employees (Psychologists) Award of 2009. All employed psychologists have the opportunity for peer and senior peer consultation within CSNSW, and are provided with continuing professional development activities that fulfil the ongoing registration requirements of the Psychology Board of Australia, and maintain quality in service delivery.

Local Services

Psychologists employed by CSNSW work in local correctional centres or Community Corrections offices. They provide services to people on remand, offenders serving sentences in custody and offenders serving sentences (including conditional release to parole) in the community.

People on remand can be referred to a CSNSW psychologist at any time whilst they are in custody. They are typically referred by screeners who interview people as soon as they are received into custody, or by custodial staff who supervise them whist they are in custody. Community Corrections officers can also refer people to a CSNSW psychologist if they require an assessment to inform their pre-sentence report to court.

Sentenced offenders, whether in custody or supervised in the community, are generally referred to a CSNSW psychologist as part of their case plan to address assessed risks, needs and responsivity factors. Offenders might also be referred to a psychologist to assist with mental health and other crises, or for management of behaviour whilst in custody. Offenders can be referred by Custodial Officers, Community Corrections  Officers, Overseers and other Offender Services and Programs staff.

Statewide Services

The other half of all Psychologists and Senior Psychologists work exclusively in one of the statewide areas of:

Each of these areas is overseen by a Chief Psychologist, Director or Principal Officer. Offenders and people on remand typically require these services as a specific part of their case plan or for a higher intensity of specialised service than is available locally.

Governance

All policies, procedures and practices for psychologists within CSNSW are informed by the conditions of practice of the Psychology Board of Australia, the conditions of employment by the Crown Employees (Psychologists) Award of 2009, and the core business objectives of CSNSW.

The Principal Psychologist, Principal Adviser Psychology:

  • Provides advice to senior staff of Corrective Services on matters relating to psychological services for offenders in custody and in the community, including effective deployment of staffing resources, program design, range of services to be provided, and standards for delivery of psychological services.
  • Is responsible for the development of policy and procedural guidelines that facilitate an integrated delivery of psychological services and programs
  • Negotiates and ensures the conduct of relevant research to produce standards of better practice for the development, delivery and effectiveness of psychological services and programs
  • Maintains and directs standards of professional supervision of all psychologists in Corrective Services NSW
  • Provides advice and support in relation to the development, accreditation, approval and evaluation of psychological programs and services
  • Represents Corrective Services NSW to external agencies and individuals as the key contact on matters related to psychology and the practice of psychologists in Corrective Services NSW.

The Principal Psychologist is a member of the Public Sector Senior Psychologists Forum.

Strategic and operational decisions relating to policy, procedures and practices of psychologist in CSNSW are determined by the Psychological Clinical Governance Team, made up of:

Together, these areas represent the different types of work that psychologists in Corrective Services NSW do. In addition, Psychologists and Senior Psychologists from the field also contribute to the Psychology Clinical Governance Team on a casual basis via topic-area working parties.

University Partnerships

CSNSW has a formal collaborative partnership with the University of NSW School of Psychology (Forensic Program) that operates the Wentworth Forensic Clinic located in the Sydney metropolitan area.

Students of the Clinic, as part of their post-graduate studies in Forensic Psychology, work under supervision of CSNSW psychologists and other staff to develop an extensive understanding of the role of psychology in CSNSW. The program allows them to progressively work towards more autonomous practice in the day-day operations of the Corrective Services Psychology Service. The students also participate in research activities across the Offender Services and Programs Branch.

The Wentworth Clinic is not exclusive to students of the University of NSW, and other Universities in metropolitan and regional areas are welcomed to participate.

How do I apply for a job with CSNSW Psychology Services?

Permanent and temporary vacant Psychologist and Senior Psychologist positions are advertised with Jobs NSW and managed by Human Resources. For trial or pre-trial stages of court proceedings (they can only write reports for sentencing stage)

  • At the requests of legal representatives (they can only write reports at the request of the judicial officer of the court)
  • At the request of offenders
  • For psychiatric assessment (these must be referred to Justice Health).

For listings of psychologof Corrective Services NSW can be found at the Corrective Services NSW Careers page.

Applicants for psychologist positions must hold registration with the Psychology Board of Australia and address each selection criteria in full. Applicants wishing to apply for specialist classification (clinical psychologist, forensic psychologist, neuropsychologist, counselling psychologist) by Corrective Services NSW must satisfy all 5 characteristics for specialist classification outlined in the Crown Employees (Psychologist) Award. It is not sufficient to be endorsed in a specialist area of practice by the Psychology Board of Australia.

Provisionally registered psychologists are eligible to apply for some psychologist positions. Appointment as provisionally registered psychologist is dependent upon suitability of location, availability of an accredited Corrective Services NSW psychologist supervisor, and details of the proposed learning plan with the Psychology Board of Australia.

How do I apply for placement with CSNSW Psychology Services?

CSNSW welcomes postgraduate psychology students completing clinical and research placements. Postgraduate psychology students currently enrolled in ‘5th year’ or ‘6th year’ of an APAC accredited course are eligible to apply for voluntary placement with CSNSW. Placement availability will depend on indemnity insurance being provided by the training institution, suitability of location, availability of accredited supervisor, and proposed learning plan for the placement. A Senior Psychologist must be approved as a primary or secondary supervisor for any placement.

Currently, CSNSW is not able to offer voluntary placements that are not a component of APAC accredited course. This includes 4-year trained psychologists undertaking 2 years of supervised practice and 5-year trained psychologists undertaking 1 year of supervised practice.

How do I request a psychology report from CSNSW?

What we do

Psychologists in CSNSW can only write reports at the request of

  • Magistrates of Local Courts of NSW (for sentencing options only)
  • Judges of District Courts of NSW (for sentencing options only)
  • Justices of the Supreme Court of NSW (for offenders eligible for Continuing Detention Orders or Extended Supervision Orders)
  • The State Parole Authority
  • The Mental Health Review Tribunal
  • The Guardianship Tribunal
  • Another case managing agency or service for the purpose of continuity of care (eg NSW Health, NSW Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care, General Practitioners)

Reports are most easily prioritised when the reason for the report, the specific referral question and angle of inquiry are made clear. If these are not clear, we may suspend the report until we have received clarification.

As a result of several factors, it typically takes 4-6 weeks from the time of request to the time of completion of a psychology report in CSNSW. If a report is required to be completed in less time, we may advise that the report cannot be completed.

Requests for psychological reports from a CSNSW psychologist must be directed to psychology@dcs.nsw.gov.au

What we don’t do

Psychologists in CSNSW lists in private practice who may be of assistance in conducting psychological assessments for court, please visit the Register of Practitioners on the Psychology Board of Australia website or visit the website for the Australian Psychological Society, which provides community information for how to find a psychologist

Are CSNSW Psychology Files confidential?

Psychologists in CSNSW keep records of all of their assessments, interventions and consultations. All psychologists maintain their records in accordance with CSNSW Corporate Records Management Policy and associated policies and procedures, with due regard to the Code of Ethics adopted by the Psychology Board of Australia, including those related to limitations on confidentiality.

Most psychologists’ records are kept in the Offender Integrated Management System (OIMS) database and general case management file that is accessible by all staff of Corrective Services NSW. These records provide information and advice to other staff about management strategies specific to people’s assessed needs. Records that are more confidential are kept only on a Psychology File that is only accessible by Corrective Services NSW Psychologists and their administrative assistants. These records inform the advice provided by psychologists in CSNSW.

It is important that all psychologists and the people to whom they provide a service know and understand the limits of confidentiality in CSNSW. This includes knowledge of how Psychology Files might be released within and outside CSNSW:

Contact us

If you have concerns about the psychological well-being of someone you know in custody or under supervision of CSNSW, and would like us to know about it, you should contact the relevant manager of the Correctional Centre or District Office that they are at.

If you would like to inquire about an advertised psychology position, please contact the CSNSW Recruitment Office or the contact person listed in the advertisement.

If you are seeking lawful access to a psychology file, please contact Legal Branch, the Child Protection and Support Unit, or the Information Access and Privacy Unit in the first instance.

If you are seeking information about specific areas of practice by psychologists within CSNSW, follow the links for

or visit the CSNSW Offender Services and Programs Branch website.

All other inquiries about the CSNSW Psychology Service, including requests for psychological reports, can be addressed to the Principal Psychologist, Principal Advisor Psychology, via

§         Email:           psychology@dcs.nsw.gov.au

§         Telephone:    +612 8346 1333

§         Post:            GPO Box 31 Sydney, NSW, 2001