Meet Jamie

News story
Jamie is a Prison Officer
A man stands next to a blue tree wearing a blue prison officer uniform

As a Prison Officer for more than 13 years, Jamie has a full appreciation of the challenges faced by prison staff – those in uniform and those in plain clothes.

"Working in the prison system and especially Hakea Prison, staff are faced with many challenges of a negative nature on a daily basis," he said. "These challenges over a period of time take their toll on staff, not only physically, but mentally.

"Fortunately we are all able to put our hand up to receive assistance with a physical injury. But we are sometimes quick to identify someone with a mental health issue as crazy or weird."

Wanting to change this perception, Jamie put up his hand to be Hakea's Wellness Day coordinator and for two years has organised activities to highlight the importance of caring for mental health.

"Luckily we are beginning to ensure mental health is seen like any other health problem that deserves acknowledgement, respect and support," he said.

"Here at Hakea we developed a day of recognising mental health and giving it the acknowledgement, support and the respect it deserves. Hakea staff understand that mental health affects us all. Whether it's dealing with our own issues or supporting someone close to you, it does take its toll and we are all learning that it's OK to not be OK.

"Hakea's Wellness Day is designed to enable staff to step away from the general business of running the prison and focus on what is most important: each other.

"I am proud to have the responsibility of coordinator, ensuring everyone has a laugh and walks away from the event with a smile on their face, while recognising the importance of caring for our mental health in our own work environment and personal lives."

The special day started with a barbeque breakfast which was prepared by the kitchen staff and finished off on the barbeque by the Hakea Senior Management Team.

"This set a great tempo for the day," Jamie said. "During the breakfast we spoke about mental health and what we were hoping to achieve with our day.

"After breakfast we gathered around our newly made blue tree, part of the Blue Tree Project which raises awareness about mental health. Next, it was off to the western oval where staff got a chance to be involved in activities such as bubble soccer and archery tag. There was also a game of 'guess which baby photo belongs to who'.

"These novelty events enabled staff let their guard down and simply have fun. Prizes where given to the winners.

"However I think the biggest prize of the day was the staff being able to step away from their intense jobs and simply have fun doing crazy activities with their peers and creating some great memories.

"The day was a great success and many staff are still laughing and reflecting on it. It is great to see Hakea staff taking a huge step forward in mental health awareness and support.

"The day has now become a welcome event on the Hakea calendar, with staff are already asking me what I have planned for next year!"

Page reviewed 13 February 2020