The impact of caseload and tenure on the development of vicarious trauma in Australian corrective services employees

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Justine Campbell, PhD, University of the Sunshine Coast, and Amy Bishop, Australian Catholic University. 



Exposure to traumatic events is a job hazard explicit to corrective services employees, including psychologists and counsellors, and various personal and organisational factors when working with offenders have been attributed to an increase in workplace stress and vicarious trauma (VT). The impact of caseload and tenure on the development of VT in corrective services has been investigated in numerous international studies, however research in Australian corrective services is limited. This study aims to address this gap in the literature by exploring these relationships amongst custodial and non-custodial corrective services employees. The study investigated: (1) the relationship between caseload and increased VT; (2) the likelihood of a longer tenure decreasing the risk of VT; and, (3) whether non-custodial/therapeutic corrective services employees are more likely to develop greater levels of VT than custodial corrective services employees. Greater caseload and longer tenure both predicted increased rates of VT and non-custodial staff were likely to exhibit higher rates of VT than custodial staff. Future research is discussed to guide effective preventative and intervention practices in the corrective services and mental health industries.


Keywords: vicarious trauma, burnout, corrective services, caseload, tenure


Address for correspondence:
Justine Campbell