Department of Justice applauds award recipients.

News story
The WA Department of Justice has congratulated six staff members who received prestigious medals in this year’s Australia Day Honours.
Australia Day Honours

Five Corrective Services staff and the Public Advocate were honoured.

The Department’s Pauline Bagdonavicius received the Public Service Medal (PSM) for her outstanding public service.

Ms Bagdonavicius has been the Public Advocate since 2008 and is the guardian of last resort for more than 2200 WA adults.

A trained nurse and social worker, she has worked in the WA public sector for more than 40 years, specialising in social services areas with 20 years experience at executive level.

The Department’s Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, said Ms Bagdonavicius’s leadership had led to important changes in legislation and policy to enhance the way vulnerable members of society are cared for and protected.

“In particular, she is a strong voice for ensuring that the rights of adults with decision-making disability are acknowledged and represented in the development of legislation, policy and services,” Dr Tomison said.

“She is recognised for her leadership in addressing the issues of elder abuse, both in Western Australia and nationally.”

Five Correctives Services staff were bestowed the Australian Corrections Medal (ACM), bringing the total number of recipients in WA to 10.

Mr Samuel Dinah is an Aboriginal Visitor in the Aboriginal Visitors Scheme. Since joining the Department in 2004, Mr Dinah has been pivotal in helping families concerned about a relative in custody. He is one of a small team which visits metropolitan and regional custodial facilities, police lock-ups and courts to support and advise Aboriginal offenders;

Ms Cassandra Gilbert is an Adult Community Corrections Manager in the Pilbara and Kimberley. Since joining the Department as a Prison Officer in 1995, Ms Gilbert has worked in several positions and locations.

In her current role, she sometimes travels more than 1065km a day to support staff who work with offenders in the community;

Mr Benjamin Leadbeatter is Assistant Superintendent, Security Support and Administration in the Special Operations Group. Since joining the Department as a Prison Officer 15 years ago, Mr Leadbeatter’s skills have been in demand during prison incidents and emergencies to restore good order and security, without significant injuries to staff or prisoners. He has also contributed to policy development and specialist training delivery;

Mr Gregory Little is a Prison Support Officer at Bunbury Regional Prison. A highly respected Elder of the Noongar Boodjar, who has worked at Bunbury Regional Prison for 19 years, Mr Little plays a major role in the management, leadership and mentoring of the prisoner peer support team, focussing on preventing suicide and self-harm and continuing to support prisoners after their release. Mr Little was the 2019 national NAIDOC Elder of the Year; and

And Ms Leith Thomas is Assistant Superintendent, Offender Services West Kimberley Regional Prison. Since joining the Department as a nurse at Broome Regional Prison in 2007, Ms Thomas has held several positions including as team member for the prison addiction services and employment coordinator. She has established good relationships with communities and understands what skills prisoners need to find work on release.

Corrective Services Commissioner Tony Hassall said the five recipients were well deserving of the recognition.

“All five have worked tirelessly in their chosen fields and their work in supporting the prison estate and in rehabilitating prisoners has proved invaluable,” Mr Hassall said.

Page reviewed 14 February 2020