Reducing the Risk of Trauma for Customs Investigators

Reducing the Risk of Trauma for Customs Investigators

Phoenix Australia works with organisations whose staff may be exposed to trauma as part of their work, assisting them to reduce the risk and minimise the impact of potentially traumatic events.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) has engaged Phoenix Australia to develop and provide training to help reduce the risk of psychological harm to investigators who are required to view objectionable material in the course of their work.
One role of the ACBPS is to investigate and prosecute a range of border-related offences, such as the importation of illicit drugs and firearms. It also investigates the importation and exportation of objectionable material, usually in electronic form, such as on computers and mobile devices. The ACBPS understands that staff whose investigations require them to view objectionable material, including child abuse material and child exploitation material, are at risk of distress and mental injury.
Prior to developing the training, Phoenix Australia is comprehensively reviewing the Service’s existing training and wellbeing support materials, and consulting with experienced ACBPS investigators. Information gathered throughout this phase will inform the development of the training program to ensure that it best meets the needs of new and existing investigators, with a particular focus on strategies for prolonged viewing of objectionable materials.
The training will be provided to ACBPS investigators in major capital cities around the country, and topics will include resilience, the impacts of viewing objectionable material, helpful work practices, graduated viewing, coping strategies, as well as ways to manage the impact of one’s work on family members. The training will ensure that the ACBPS has strategies in place for pre-exposure preparedness, and support at the time of, and following, exposure to the objectionable materials.
Phoenix Australia’s Director of Policy and Service Development, Dr Andrea Phelps said that, “Our knowledge of and expertise in translating the research on risk and resilience factors into practical strategies will help mitigate the risk for ACBPS staff exposed to distressing material in the course of their work”.
Phoenix Australia is very pleased to be working with the ACBPS to ensure that their investigative staff are supported in the important work that they do.