Staffing levels in Tasmania's corrections system have been labelled unsustainable after departmental figures revealed the government spent more than $8 million on overtime in the last financial year.
The government has blamed protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the near $800,000 increase from 2018-19.
However, the Unitedf Workers Union said it pointed to a much larger systemic problem.
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Tasmanian secretary Jannette Armstrong said correctional officers were doing eye-watering amounts of overtime to keep the system afloat.
"The total hours of overtime worked in the past year is effectively equivalent to each CO working regular full time hours for a whole year, with no annual leave and no sick days, and still doing several weeks overtime," she said.
"There's no time for rest and recuperation. It's actually damaging and dangerous, and its impacting the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of our members."
Corrections Minister Elise Archer said the government was expecting to hire another 40 officers this year.
However, Ms Armstrong said that would barely cover staff turnover.
She said low staffing levels were creating dangerous work environments for correctional officers.
Ms Armstrong wants the government to commit to including COs in the My Pulse wellbeing support program available to other emergency services workers.
"The government is not doing enough to prevent workers experiencing psychological injuries in the TPS [Tasmania Prison Service]," she said.
"There has been a lot of talk and promises, but COs are still waiting for management and government to walk the talk.
"A lot more still needs to be implemented to better support workers and their psychological wellbeing."
A Justice Department spokesperson said the department spent $3,312,555 on workers compensation claims last year.
They said 19 COs were on long-term, three months or more, workers compensation leave - five as a result of physical injury and 14 as a result of psychological injury.
"The number of workers compensation psychological claims at the TPS has reduced from 54 in 2018-19 to 22 in 2019-20," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the department was committed to supporting employees in their recovery process.
"The department has increased resources in the Workplace Health and Safety and Worker's Compensation Management team at the Tasmania Prison Service," the spokesperson said.
"A Tasmanian Prison Service staff welfare officer has also been put in place and is focused on a TPS specific staff support and wellbeing program."
Despite the decrease in the number of people seeking support the UWU still said more needed to be done.
Ms Armstrong said taxpayers were footing the bill for a flawed system.
"The culture issues and under-resourcing in the TPS are resulting in constant lockdowns, officer burnout, and robbing prisoners of rehabilitation opportunities which increases recidivism," she said.
"It all comes with a hefty overtime and workers compensation bill that taxpayers are footing, but Tasmanian correctional officers are paying the highest price."
Ms Archer said the government was committed to increasing staffing numbers and was developing a TPS-specific staff support program.
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